The National Fire Prevention Association’s annual “Fire Prevention Week” kicks off on Sunday, and Valley City Fire Chief Gary Retterath said he is preparing to present to Washington, Jefferson and St. Catherine’s Elementary Schools next week to educate children on fire safety.
“I start going to the schools on Monday to run some fire drills, have some tours and a coloring contest,” Retterath said. “During that week I try to hit all the classrooms but I might end up going into the next week also. It depends on what happens that week because I’ve got tours so I’ve got to get back to the station and run some of them.”
Retterath said he does have some volunteer help, but Fire Prevention Week usually spills over a couple extra days.
This year, the NFPA’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Have 2 Ways Out,” focusing on the importance of having multiple escape routes from a burning building.
“Less than 25 percent of American households have developed and practiced a fire escape plan to be prepared in the event of a real emergency,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA vice president of Communications in a news release.
“Having a plan and knowing what to do can make the difference between getting out safely and quickly or not.”
The NFPA says in 2010, one burning home was reported every 85 seconds and fire departments across the nation responded to 369,500 home fires that caused 13,350 injuries and 2,640 deaths to civilians and $6.9 billion in fire damage.
According to an NFPA survey, about 33 percent of people in the U.S. have both developed and practiced a fire escape plan, 75 percent have an escape plan but less than half have practiced it.
The leading causes of fires are cooking, heating, smoking, electrical and candles, respectively.