Volunteer fire departments throughout the Owens Valley will be celebrating Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-11, with a series of open houses.
Sunday kicked off National Fire Prevention Week and local fire departments are reminding residents to check their smoke alarms, be fire conscious and to drop by their community’s fire station for helpful tips or just to say hello.
Beginning today, Inyo’s volunteer fire departments, from Olancha in the south to Bishop in the north, will be hosting open house events, giving residents an opportunity to meet the volunteer firefighters and department chiefs, see the firefighting equipment and learn how to become a volunteer.
Inyo’s fire departments are kicking off the second year of a four-year $1 million Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response grant awarded to Inyo County last year by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
According to Grant Administrator Megan Bryant, the local departments “are always looking for more volunteers.”
In the first year of the grant, Bryant said Inyo’s six fire departments attracted 53 new firefighters. The goal is to get 70 new firefighters over the four-year grant.
The department open houses, each beginning at 6 p.m., serve several purposes, Bryant said. The firefighters will be providing fire safety tips for adults, an opportunity for youngsters to acquaint themselves with the big red engines and to provide information on how to volunteer, the time requirements and training that is necessary. A few of Inyo’s departments will also be the site of flu clinics (see Page 5 of The Inyo Register today for more details about the flu clinics).
“The chiefs will all be there with their staff to do a meet and greet,” Bryant said. “They like to invite the public to come in, let the kids climb on the engines, most have hot dogs and food. It’s always a fun time.”
The open houses will be held today in Lone Pine, Wednesday at the Bishop, Independence and Olancha fire stations and on Thursday at the Big Pine Fire Station.
According to Olancha Fire Chief Steve Davis, each year the state selects a theme for Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” and each department will be offering safety tips during their open house events.
He also said that the Lone Pine Fire Department is holding a special event today that brings local students to the fire house for a tour and fire safety lecture.
“We want people to be aware of the dangers of kitchen fires and make sure their smoke detectors are working,” Davis said.
According to CalFire, every year in California firefighters respond to residential structure fires that take lives and cause millions of dollars in damage. This week, the state fire agency is teaming with the National Fire Prevention Association for Fire Prevention Week to educate residents on the simple steps they can take to help protect their families from the most common cause of residential fires.
According to CalFire, unattended cooking is the leading cause of home fires. “Two of every five home fires begin in the kitchen – more than any other place in the home,” a press release states. Cooking fires are also the leading cause of fire-related home injuries.
“Often when firefighters are called to a fire that started in the kitchen, the residents tell us that they only left the kitchen for a few minutes,” said State Fire Marshal Tonya Hoover. “Sadly, that’s all it takes for a fire to start. We hope that Fire Prevention Week will enable us to reach folks in the community before they’ve suffered a damaging lesson and remember ‘Fire is Everyone’s Fight.’”
To ensure safety in the kitchen, CalFire recommends residents follow these tips:
• Have a three-foot “kid-free” zone around the stove.
• Stand by your pan and keep an eye on what you fry. If you leave the kitchen, turn the burner off.
• Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove. Then no one can bump them or pull them over.
• Have a fire extinguisher 10 feet from the stove on the exit side of the kitchen.
• Never pour water on a grease fire; turn the stove off and cover the pan with a lid, or close the oven door.
• Keep anything that can catch fire – pot holders, oven mitts, wooden utensils, paper or plastic bags, food packaging, towels or curtains – away from your stovetop.
• If your clothing should catch fire, immediately stop, drop and roll to smother flames.
• Scalds and burn injuries are on the increase. The highest risks are the very young and the elderly.
For more fire safety tips, visit the CalFire website at www.fire.ca.gov.