IFD spreads message on Fire Prevention Week

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 14, 2004

When can just a few dollars save lives? When those dollars are spent on batteries for smoke detectors.

That is one of the themes that Ironton Fire Department and other fire departments across the country hope to emphasize during this week's observance of National Fire Prevention Week.

In Ohio in 2003, 130 people died in residential fires - more than half of those did not have working smoke detectors

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"My No. 1 message is that smoke detectors save lives. It is not going to prevent a fire once it starts but it will save your life," Ironton Fire Inspector Mike Mahlmeister said. "… I have heard it from people time and time again, 'If I didn't have a smoke detector, I wouldn't be here.'"

The IFD visited Central Christian Church's Daycare Monday to educate and entertain approximately 35 children up to age 5.

Four-year-old Alex Gillette said she is not afraid of firefighters because they are heroes.

"They spray your house when it is on fires," Gillette said shyly.

What did the children learn?

"To stop, drop and roll in case there is a fire," Ali Waller, 4, said.

The department outlined stop, drop and roll, how to get out of the house, not to be afraid and other things that could ultimately save lives, Mahlmeister said.

"It is very important to get to the young kids. Studies show that the younger kids are more impressionable and can be scared easily," he said. "We have our firefighters come in full gear to the rooms so children will get used to them and won't be scared if a firefighter comes in to save or rescue them.

"We want them to see firefighters as friends and someone there to help them."

Firefighter Louie Sheridan called proactive work such as this one of the best parts of the job.

"We would much rather do this (than fight fires)," Sheridan said.

The IFD will visit St. Lawrence Elementary Tuesday, Kingsbury Elementary Wednesday, Whitwell Elementary Thursday, West Ironton Kindergarten, Friday and The Open Door School next week.

"The goal is just to heighten everyone's awareness to the dangers of fire and the hazards of fire," Mahlmeister said. "Hopefully, anything we can do will help prevent something from happening but if something does happen, people will know what to do."