September 24, 2013

Editorial: Assess homes for fire danger

The stark reality of fire danger was dramatically illustrated last Friday when an apartment house in the City of Plattsburgh caught ablaze.

The early morning fire displaced 11 people and left one seriously injured. Firefighters arrived to find thick smoke, a street full of distraught and confused young people and a woman who was perilously close to death.

Fast-acting residents, skilled fire crews and working fire alarms contributed to last Friday’s fire not being an even greater disaster than it was. The cause appeared to be electrical, according to fire officials.

That fire should be a reminder to us all that fire can start unexpectedly and spread quickly. Every home should be equipped with warning systems, and everyone should take a few minutes to confirm that and to think about how they would react if they were awakened to a fire.

Next week is Fire Prevention Week, established in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire in 1871 that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,400 structures.

North Country firefighters will observe the special week with activities, many of them involving schoolchildren. Firetruck rides, visits to schools and fire station open houses are being planned.

The lessons that firefighters will share and the information that will be provided is crucial knowledge. In an actual fire, there is little time to think about options; people must act swiftly.

This year’s theme is “Prevent Kitchen Fires,” with the National Fire Protection Association reporting that three in 10 home fires start in the kitchen, more than any other room. The association reported Monday that every 23 seconds, in the United States, a fire department responds to a fire.

Kitchen fires are considered to be one of the more preventable types of fires, yet many deaths and injuries each year are associated with cooking.

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