Look, lis­ten, learn: fire pre­ven­tion starts with you

The Drumheller Mail - - MAIL WORKS - Sub­mit­ted The Drumheller Mail

This year’s Fire Pre­ven­tion Week theme “Look. Lis­ten. Learn” works to ed­u­cate peo­ple about three sim­ple but po­ten­tially life sav­ing steps to re­duce the like­li­hood of hav­ing a fire, and how to es­cape safely in the event of one.

Look. Look for places where a fire could start and iden­tify po­ten­tial fire haz­ards and take care of them.

Lis­ten. Lis­ten for the sound of a smoke alarm. If a fire breaks out in your home you could only have min­utes to es­cape safely once the smoke alarm sounds. Make sure to check your fire alarms reg­u­larly to see they are in work­ing or­der. Peo­ple in your house­hold or busi­ness should have an agreed upon meet­ing lo­ca­tion in the event of a fire.

Learn. There should be two ways out of ev­ery room in case of a fire, whether that be a door or win­dow, and make sure the ex­its are clut­ter free and would be easy to use if a fire strikes.

In many ways, fire safety prac­tices are quite sim­ple. If we keep things that will burn (fu­els such as pa­per, peat moss, wood, com­post, etc.), away from things that are hot enough to ig­nite those things, even slowly, it will pre­vent ig­ni­tion – and with no ig­ni­tion, we have no fire. This is the fun­da­men­tal premise of the Al­berta Fire Code: to sep­a­rate fuel and ig­ni­tion source.

Ac­cord­ing to Al­berta’s fire com­mis­sioner, one of the prob­lems they see reg­u­larly is peo­ple are un­aware of the things around them that may ig­nite. An ex­am­ple is the soil that plants are grown in. These plants re­quire soil that pro­vides nu­tri­ents and con­tains things such as com­post and peat moss, both of which are or­ganic fu­els. When some­one places a cig­a­rette in a plant’s pot, the fire does not oc­cur in­stantly, so in­di­vid­u­als may not re­al­ize un­til much later that they have started a fire. The un­ex­tin­guished cig­a­rette smoul­ders in­side the soil, build­ing up heat and search­ing for more fuel and oxy­gen. As it heats up, some­times over sev­eral hours, it heats the or­ganic ma­te­rial in the soil to its ig­ni­tion point, caus­ing a vis­i­ble fire to start. If there are other com­bustible ma­te­ri­als in the vicin­ity, they will be ig­nited and the fire will grow, of­ten go­ing un­no­ticed un­til sig­nif­i­cant dam­age has been done.

The same con­cern arises with cig­a­rette butts thrown from ve­hi­cles. The butt con­tin­ues to smoul­der and of­ten gets blown into the ditch at the side of the road where it heats dry grass to its ig­ni­tion point. In Al­berta, we know from ex­pe­ri­ence this may re­sult in rapid fire spread, of­ten ex­ac­er­bated by dry con­di­tions and strong winds. These en­tirely pre­ventable fires have caused ma­jor dam­age to prop­erty and live­stock, and have placed fire- fighters in dan­ger.

Fire, like all other risks and haz­ards, is some­thing all Al­ber­tans, adults and chil­dren, need to be aware of at all times, in the home, at work and out­doors.

As we do ev­ery Fire Pre­ven­tion Week, we want to re­mind ev­ery­one to clean and test the smoke alarms and car­bon monox­ide alarms in their house monthly.

Test­ing your smoke alarm with smoke from a blown out can­dle is the pre­ferred way of ver­i­fy­ing its func­tion, car­bon monox­ide alarms work on dif­fer­ent, time-weighted ex­po­sure prin­ci­ples and can only be tested by push­ing the “test” but­ton as per man­u­fac­turer’s in­struc­tions.

We strongly en­cour­age all Al­ber­tans to work with your part­ners, chil­dren, fam­ily mem­bers, ten­ants and neigh­bours, to draft, dis­cuss, and prac­tise their fire es­cape plans. These plans need to be spe­cific to your res­i­dence and take into ac­count its type and lo­ca­tion, as well as the us­abil­ity of the iden­ti­fied es­cape routes. Your lo­cal fire de­part­ment and the Of­fice of the Fire Com­mis­sioner are al­ways ready and will­ing to an­swer any fire safety ques­tions and pro­vide ad­di­tional guid­ance upon re­quest. Our goal is the same as yours: to en­sure you are pre­pared in the event of a fire and to help ev­ery­one get out safely

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