By RYAN KING
PORT AUX BASQUES – Since 1922, Fire Prevention Week has been observed internationally during the week of Oct. 9. The week was created in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire that began on Oct. 8, 1871, and left 250 people dead, 100,000 homeless, burned down 17,400 buildings, and set fire to 2,000 acres of land. Every year during this week, firefighters provide education on fire safety to both children and adults to keep their family and community safe.
This year the theme is ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.’ The Channel-Port aux Basques Volunteer Fire Department will participate by educating children about the sounds of fire safety devices, like smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors, and what to do when they hear those sounds.
“If you hear a beep from a carbon monoxide machine or a smoke machine, or you hear a chirp, I guess the question is what does that mean,” said Fire Chief Jerry Musseau.
The Chief explained that it largely comes down to the difference between a series of louds beeps, or the occasional chirp in these devices. Chirps usually means an issue with the device, and the recommended time to replace these devices are every 10 years.
“For a smoke alarm, you could probably hear a continuous sound of loud beeps going on. It’s all loud continuous beeps for the alarm going off. So, if you hear that sound, it is an indication that there is either smoke or a fire around. Sometimes you might hear a chirp from a smoke alarm, like every 30 seconds or 60 seconds, or whatever lapse is in between. Well, that would mean that the battery is probably going in the machine, and it’s time to change your batteries. Now, if you replace the battery in the machine and the chirping still continues, that means the smoke alarm is probably at the end of its life and the unit should be replaced,” said Musseau.
Musseau discussed an incident that happened recently on Sept. 28, where a smoke detector alerted a family to a fire in their crawl space.
“We received a call that a gentleman had a fire in his basement. It actually wasn’t in the basement, it was in a crawl space,” said Musseau. “Of course there was no smoke alarm down there, but once the smoke came up from the crawl space to the living quarters, the smoke alarm went off. And they were in bed, and jumped out of bed, and discovered that they had a fire in their basement. And that has happened a number of times, that people have been in bed, or probably just sitting around in their living room, and a smoke alarm went off.”
Fire and Emergency Services recommends that a smoke detector be installed in every bedroom and on every level of a home.
“Even though you don’t have any bedrooms in your basement probably, you should still have a smoke alarm there. If you don’t have a bedroom, say on your first level if you have a two-story house, you should still have your smoke alarms on that level also,” advised Musseau.
As part of the Fire Safety Week, the fire department visits local schools to help educate young children about how to stay safe.
“We will be going into the schools, the elementary school for sure, and doing a presentation on fire safety. And we got some fire prevention materials that we will pass out, or leave with the kids to take home. They can read it themselves, and of course, the parents also can read it. So that’s the plan and also, we’re hoping to be able to get a fire drill done at the school. And if things go good, like I said, if we’re allowed to do that, we will try to do the same thing, at least fire drills, at the high school and our Community College,” said Musseau.
To maintain proper social distancing, groups of children will be brought into a room for a presentation and a short video. Musseau hopes to also include the nearby daycare as part of the fire safety week visits.
The takeaway from the theme of ‘Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety,’ can be summed up in the following quote:
“If you hear the beep, get on your feet. If you hear a chirp, make a change. Replace the batteries or the unit,” advised Musseau.