Fire prevention in spotlight next week

FORT FRANCES—While encouraging fire safety is always part of their mandate, local firefighters will be getting out to stress that message to the public during “Fire Prevention Week” (Oct. 8-14).
“For the most part, Fire Prevention Week is an opportunity to reinforce the whole fire prevention message, especially for our young people in schools,” Fort Frances Fire Chief Gerry Armstrong said Thursday.
“It’s a time to get out a good, clear, and concise message on how to protect themselves in a fire, or better yet, how to prevent fires,” he added.
“Even though it’s really directed at all citizens, ultimately we try to reinforce that message with the kids.
“Hopefully, the kids will then take that message home and share it with their parents, get their parents involved,” added Chief Armstrong. “Generally, that’s the best route for educating adults we’ve discovered.”
The Fort Frances Fire/Rescue Service will be at Canadian Tire on Saturday (Oct. 7) from 10 a.m.-3 p.m. to get a jump on Fire Prevention Week (Canadian Tire once again is a sponsor of Fire Prevention Week activities here and across Canada all next week).
The ladder truck will be on display there, along with “Sparky” the Fire Dog, fire prevention displays, an information booth, prizes, and lots of giveaways.
Chief Armstrong encouraged everyone to drop by, pick up free stuff, meet “Sparky,” and ask the firefighters anything they want about fire prevention.
While there, kids can enter a draw for a chance to win a mountain bike and helmet, or one of two fire safety prize packs (including a smoke alarm, T-shirt, and other cool stuff).
The draws will be held on Tuesday (Oct. 10).
Meanwhile, fire trucks also will be pulling up to elementary schools around town next week to talk about fire safety with students, starting at St. Michael’s (K-Grade 3) on Tuesday morning, then Huffman (K-Grade 3) that afternoon.
They’ll also be at Robert Moore (Grades 4-6) on Wednesday morning and J.W. Walker (JK, SK, and Grades 1 and 3) that afternoon, then back to Walker (JK, and Grades 1/2 and 2/3) on Thursday afternoon.
They’ll then wrap up the week at Robert Moore (Grade 3) on Friday afternoon.
But even after Fire Prevention Week, Chief Armstrong said firefighters will continue to visit schools throughout the year to “spread the good word” on fire prevention.
“We’re hoping to encourage the schools to allow us some time in May or June, when grass fire season is at a peak, to allow us to get in and discuss some of the dangers with those sorts of things, as well, rather than just the home fire scenario [promoted in the fall],” he explained.
While the local fire department won’t be having a smoke alarm blitz coinciding with Fire Prevention Week as it sometimes has done in previous years, Chief Armstrong said firefighters will make an effort to visit homes at various times this winter and in the New Year to check for compliance.
Chief Armstrong, who had been fire protection advisor and, later, fire and safety specialist with the Ontario Fire Marshal’s Office before accepting the position of fire chief back in July, said he’s been impressed with the fire safety education efforts here before he came on board—and plans to keep it a high priority.
“It is definitely the future of the fire service,” he noted. “We’ll be refocusing some of our educational programs. It’s been great up to this point, and I don’t want to lose that.
“I certainly support and encourage our people here to carry on with the good work they’ve been doing.
“The fire prevention message doesn’t change—sometimes how we deliver it does—but the gist of it is education is important, especially to the young people in our area,” Chief Armstrong said.
(Fort Frances Daily Bulletin)