10/31/10 — Firefighters advocate for fire safety awareness

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Firefighters advocate for fire safety awareness

By Gary Popp
Published in News on October 31, 2010 1:50 AM

The Goldsboro Fire Department observed October as Fire Safety Month by increasing its visibility through educational programs for both children and adults.

October is designated as Fire Safety Month across the nation. Each year, firefighters search for new ways to spread the message of fire safety.

"The messages, basically, haven't changed," said Goldsboro Fire Chief Gary Whaley. "People need to have smoke detectors in their homes, a functioning fire extinguisher and evacuation routes in case of a fire."

Firefighters helped emphasize the principles of fire safety by giving station tours to school children, visiting classrooms and by playing a large role in KidsFest, an event sponsored by the Wayne County Health Department at Berkeley Mall early in the month.

Whaley said building a relationship with children is especially important.

"It is important to me, and the department, that children feel comfortable with firefighters," the chief said. "If we happen to go into a home to rescue a child, or if we come onto to a scene dressed in turnout gear and air packs, a lot of kids get scared."

During events throughout the month, firefighters put on their protective gear in front of the children so they aren't frightened in the event that firefighters have to come to their home.

During Fire Safety Month, firefighters across the nation pressed the importance of smoke detectors. "Smoke Alarms: A Sound You Can Live With," was the slogan this year to raise awareness of proper smoke detector use.

"Proper smoke alarm use in homes is something you don't stop talking about," Whaley said. "It is important that people know how to test a smoke detector each month, change its batteries, properly use the detector and have a plan in place when the smoke detectors go off."

Whaley says smoke detector provide homeowners with a valuable early warning to threat of fire in other parts of the home.

"Smoke detectors are especially important at night, when smoke from a fire can make you go into a deeper sleep," Whaley said. "Through all my years, I have seen where smoke detectors have saved lives."

"In most of the fatalities that I am familiar with, the smoke detectors in the home was not there or not working. It is not always the case, but smoke detectors are a big part of fire safety."

Of the 69 residential fires that the Fire Department responded to this year, 34 started in the kitchen.

"Kitchen safety is a big deal because we have a lot of fires caused by unattended cooking," Whaley said. "We try to focus on proper use of microwaves and toasters."