SWAN LAKE, NY — “Fire prevention is very, very important to the community,” said John Hauschild, Sullivan County fire coordinator and the county’s Emergency Services Training …
SWAN LAKE, NY — “Fire prevention is very, very important to the community,” said John Hauschild, Sullivan County fire coordinator and the county’s Emergency Services Training Center coordinator.
One of the first steps in saving life and property is installing smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in homes and places of business, along with having fire extinguishers readily available in case of fire.
Commenting on this year’s theme of Fire Prevention Week, “The Sounds of Safety,” Hauschild said that several modern fire and carbon monoxide detectors/alarms actually “talk to you” in addition to sounding a traditional alarm when the devices detect smoke or carbon monoxide. You might hear, “Fire. fire. fire!’ or “Warning, warning, warning! Carbon monoxide. Get out!”
“It’s a whole new level of protection,” he said. “If the alarms go off, don’t check it out, get out and call the fire department at 911.”
Although the traditional rule of thumb recommends changing the batteries in battery-powered detectors once a year, Hauschild said it’s better to replace them every six months, “when you set your clocks back or forward” as the seasons change.
“Fire extinguishers are a very important part of fire prevention,” he added, noting that they can be a first step in putting out a fire, with a few safety caveats—”You always want to have an exit, never get between the fire and your exit, keep the exit at your back!”
Never assume that you’re going to conquer a fire with a fire extinguisher. Always call 911 before you do anything else, as this emergency call for help gets the firefighters rolling.
“Fire extinguishers are like putting a Band-Aid on a fire. The smaller the fire, the smaller the fire extinguisher, and the bigger the fire, the bigger the fire extinguisher,” said Hauschild, noting that most home extinguishers are available in two-and-a-half to five-pound capacities or in 10 to 20-pound ratings.
But once again, he stressed the importance of getting everyone out of the structure as the first step in addressing the emergency situation.
Addressing the role of fire inspections, Hauschild said that any new homes must be inspected by a village or town code enforcement officer, who will look for the proper installation of fireplaces and woodstoves, in addition to other safety factors.
Sullivan County has a team of eight highly trained fire investigators, who at the request of the local fire chief will conduct a detailed examination of a fire to establish a point of origin and travel pattern of a fire.
If the blaze is considered to be suspicious, further investigations will be conducted by law enforcement, and if warranted “will take it to the next level… it’s a process of elimination, looking for things that are out of the normal.”
“New York State law requires the fire chief to come up with a point of origin and a cause for every fire or explosion,” said Hauschild, explaining this is the initial step in an investigation.
Several local fire departments work closely with school districts to stage demonstrations of firefighting equipment and apparatus, including tips on fire prevention.
As things stand now, these informative visits to local schools are scheduled to go ahead, after a one-year hiatus caused by the pandemic, but Hauschid cautioned that this isn’t a sure bet, as things could change in a heartbeat. “It’s day by day.”
The Sullivan County Bureau of Fire recently formed the Sullivan County Recruitment & Retention Task Force, a multi-pronged effort to attract new members to, and retain existing volunteers in, the area’s fire departments, as a local endeavor to address the nationwide trend of shrinking numbers in the fire services.
“A lot of the stuff that’s taught in school goes back to the children’s homes. ‘Mom, Dad did you check the batteries in the fire detectors, or do we have an exit drill?’”
“A lot of people lose their lives for things that could have been prevented. Practice fire prevention every day, not just in October,” said the county’s fire coordinator.
For a comprehensive listing of information about fire prevention in New York, contact The New York State Office of Fire Prevention & Control (OFPC) at http://www.dhses.ny.gov.
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