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
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
"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
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
"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
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."