Firemen reach out to youth

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, October 7, 2003

Someone is killed in a house fire in the United States approximately every three hours.

Firefighters across the nation are fighting to change that this week in recognition of Fire Prevention Week.

Crews from the Ironton Fire Department visited Kingsbury Elementary Monday and will visit the rest of the elementary schools and day care centers in the city this week to teach children what to do during a fire and to spread the national theme of "When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!"

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Chief Tom Runyon said it is critical to start teaching fire safety and prevention while the children are still young. The firefighters focused on how to use the 911 system, the stop, drop and roll procedure, the importance of smoke alarms, escape routes and having a safe meeting place.

"This is very important. They are vulnerable now," Runyon said. "If children learn fire safety now, it will stick with them.

"It also gets them familiar with firefighters. If they are trapped in a fire, seeing a firefighter breathing through an air pack can be scary to them. This lets them know we are here to help."

When the students were asked if any of them would like to be a firefighter one day, hands went flying into the air.

Third-grader Patrick Lewis said he thought the gear was the "coolest" part of the presentation.

"I like the helmet and the face mask," he said.

Darrius Boykin said the firefighters told him a lot of "neat stuff," including what they can do to prepare for a fire.

"He told us to make a plan where the family is to meet," Boykin said. "And once you get out, don't ever go back in."

Runyon said they will also be sending home information for parents as well. One important program offered through the State Fire Marshal's Office provides free smoke detectors. Anyone interested, can call the department at 532-0043.

Other departments across the county have their own events scheduled.

A Fire Prevention Parade in South Point is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday from North Kenova Street to the village park.

Fire departments from South Point, Burlington-Fayette, Rome and Perry townships, and possibly others, are scheduled to participate.

The Chesapeake-Union Township Fire Department will have their Fire Prevention Parade Oct. 18. The parade will start at 10 a.m. at the Robert C. Byrd Bridge and end at Chesapeake High School. 

According to national statistics,

cigarettes, cigars and pipes are the leading cause of fire deaths in the United States. The majority of house fires associated with smoking materials start as a result of careless or improper disposal.

National Fire Prevention has been observed for more than 75 years.

Fire Prevention Week was originally established to commemorate the Chicago fire of Oct. 8-9, 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,400 structures.

According to the National Archives and Records Administration's Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance in the nation.