Greenville Fire/Rescue (GFR) just celebrated Fire Prevention Week from Oct. 6 to Oct. 12, but will continue to have events throughout all of October seeking to educate the Greenville community on important fire safety tips.
Rebekah Thurston, public information officer and life safety educator for GFR, said GFR does programs that teach the community about fire safety throughout the year, but October is a month it sets aside to educate everyone on fire safety.
Thurston said the holiday is supposed to only last one week in October, but GFR wants to extend it out to the whole month in order to provide educational opportunities for the community.
Thurston said GFR doesn’t want to change the name of the holiday because Fire Prevention Week is the longest national running public health holiday. She said if GFR changes the name that record would be lost.
“People always think that (a fire) can’t happen to them, but we know that it can and we want everyone in the community to be as protected as possible and have a plan laid out in case a fire does actually break out in their home,” Thurston said.
Thurston said that GFR has over 100 fire prevention events planned for the month of October. Fire Prevention Month is the busiest one they have ever had. The most events that had been done in the past was 70 in October 2017.
There are fire safety programs scheduled at public libraries, which are primarily for children. There will be an event today at the East Branch Library at 10:30 a.m., and then another event at Sheppard Memorial Library on Oct. 17 at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m, Thurston said. At the events, stories about fire prevention will be read and there will be games revolving around fire safety, Thurston said.
Thurston said that GFR has also gone to assisted living facilities to teach the elderly about fire safety. “The reason we focus on kids and seniors is that they are the most at risk for home fire death, so we tend to focus on those two populations during October,” Thurston said.
Thurston said that the most important thing when considering fire safety is that all of the smoke alarms are in working order because smoke alarms allow households to know when there is smoke or fire.
Thurston said that both nationally and locally, unattended or intoxicated cooking is the number one cause of fires in the home. When cooking on the stovetop, it is essential to stay in the same room and pay attention to the task at hand.
Thurston said if someone living in the Greenville city limits has a fire alarm that does not work, they can call GFR and someone will come out to their house and replace the fire alarm free of charge.
Greg Hardee, a captain with the City of Greenville Fire Department, said texting or looking at social media while cooking may also cause fires to break out.
Hardee said he is helping with the events that are being put on throughout Fire Prevention Month. He said there are many different, but important, things that GFR wants to teach to the children about fire prevention.
“One of the main things is do you know how to call 911 when you have an emergency,” Hardee said. “We also want to teach them the different noises that a fire alarm makes and what that can mean. How to get low and go and stay away from the smoke that they shouldn’t be breathing are other important skills we want to teach.”
Jesus Enriquez, a firefighter with GFR, said he is excited to work with the kids and educate them on the important topic of fire safety.
Enriquez said he believes what GFR is doing during Fire Prevention Month is a great service to the community. He says he enjoys every aspect of Fire Prevention Month and said it is always fun to be working with kids.
Enriquez said one of the most important fire safety tips to keep in mind is to always have two ways out of the house in case of a fire and to always have a safety plan for if a fire actually does break out.