Criminal Justice News

Monday, October 22, 2012

Fire hazards focus of Fire Prevention Week

by Airman Ashley J. Woolridge
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

10/17/2012 - ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- Imagine a world where firefighters would never have to respond to a fire because everyone knew how to prevent fires from starting.

The goal of a "fire-free" world was behind the efforts to educate children and teenagers on what causes a fire and what they can do to prevent one from starting, during Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8 to 15.

"We want people to know what to do if they have a fire, but we have a saying that the easiest fire to fight is the one that never gets started," said William Beck, 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire inspector. "If we can get folks thinking about fire safety, they will recognize and eliminate fire hazards, and that's the easiest way to fight fire."

Every year, the 28th CES fire department partners with area firefighters to spread the message of fire prevention through school visits, open houses and demonstrations. This year alone, Ellsworth firefighters reached more than 1,600 young people, ranging in age from preschool to middle school.

"The intent of our message is to equip the kids with knowledge on how to identify fire hazards and prevent fires from starting in their homes," said Steven Hilton, 28th CES assistant fire chief. "We partner with Box Elder (firefighters) because the schools are in Box Elder, (S.D.), and the children are a mix of military dependents and civilian residents of the community."

Beck said reaching out to the community, especially to children, is essential for keeping the community not only informed, but safe.

"Kids can be our best fire inspectors," Beck explained. "We are very limited in our access to homes for inspections, so it's up to families to protect their own homes. Teaching kids about fire safety is a proven way to help keep families safe from fire-related incidents."

Along with the National Fire Prevention Agency's 2012 theme of "Know Two Ways Out," firefighters also focused on educating their audiences about what household objects and surfaces should be kept away from each other.

"This year, we'll be teaching kids to recognize things that are hot and things that can burn," Beck said. "If we can keep those things apart, we can keep a fire from starting."

Hilton organized a great deal of the Fire Prevention Week events, including meet and greets with Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog. He said the appreciation and positive feedback from teachers and other caregivers is only part of what makes the week so rewarding.

"It's great - it's fun to be a part of it," Hilton said. "I love working with the kids, and it's fun to watch these guys go out and give the message. They do a great job and represent (Ellsworth) in a positive manner."

Beck was enthusiastic about being involved in Fire Prevention Week, but said he and his fellow firefighters don't do it for the fame.

"It is a very satisfying feeling knowing that we are making a real difference in the lives of kids and their families," Beck said. "Most of the time the big headlines are reserved for tragic fires, and we see those headlines all too often. A daring rescue by firefighters is exciting to read about, but working in fire prevention is a way to save lives on a larger scale - though with far less fanfare. That's okay, though. We'd rather have a boring news day and everyone be safe."

No comments: