CENTRAL ILLINOIS (WCIA) — If it’s ever happened to you, you know fire can happen anywhere. Flammable materials in our homes are more toxic than ever. Those are just two takeaways from this year’s Fire Prevention Week which runs through Saturday.
The goal is to stop fire before it starts. This year’s motto is Listen, Look and Learn. Look where fires could start, listen for alarms and learn at least two ways out of every room. It could save your life and the lives of firefighters.
Fire safety starts with education this week at Urbana’s Lincoln Square Mall.
“We have groups of kids coming in from different schools and daycares to learn to prevent fire in their homes and what to do if there is a fire in their house.”
Travis Crow is one of the firefighters teaching kids for Fire Prevention Week.
“We want them to be able to prevent fires instead of us coming to extinguish fire in their house.”
Bart Owen, with the Mattoon Fire Department, agrees.
“Some people say, ‘Well, you’re going to prevent yourself out of a job.’ We’d love for that to happen.”
Research shows homes burn faster and hotter than about 30-years ago. Then, you had 17-minutes to escape. Now, you only have three or four.
“It’s a lot more petroleum-based substances. A lot more plastics, a lot more manmade materials you might say.”
Those materials also increase the risk of cancer to firefighters. It’s why air packs are so important.
“That’s what the firemen wear into the fire or any environment you shouldn’t be breathing the air.”
The Mattoon Fire Department recently received a $200,000 grant for new airpacks.
“That’ll get us 30 new packs and 60 new bottles.”
The upgrade will keep them safer, but they say it’s better to be proactive than reactive.
“That’s probably the biggest thing you can do, whether you’re renting a house, buying a house, whether you’re in a house. You need to have a smoke detector.”
It’s also important to have a plan if there is a fire. Make sure you have a meeting place, your kids know their address and how to call 911.
Fire Prevention Week dates back to the 1920s. President Woodrow Wilson named October 9 Fire Prevention Day. A couple years later, he expanded it to Fire Prevention Week.