As Fire Prevention Week 2019 is being marked across North America, Kingston Fire and Rescue is using the week as an opportunity to encourage fire safety and the development of escape plans.
Fire Prevention Week is observed each year in memory of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 people homeless, destroyed over 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres. The week is used by fire departments across the continent to raise awareness around fire prevention.
Here in Kingston, our local firefighting service is hoping to make more Kingstonians aware of the importance of escape planning.
“Having a home escape plan in place and working smoke alarms can be the difference between life and death,” said Chief Fire Prevention Officer Ted Posadowski.
According to Kingston Fire and Rescue, most fire deaths in Canada occur in the home. Canadian fire departments respond to roughly 25,600 structure fires annually, and a simple escape plan is an important step in ensuring your family or housemates are aware of the best ways to escape to safety should a fire occur.
“Home fires continue to pose a significant threat to safety,” said Lorraine Carli, Vice President of Outreach and Advocacy for the National Fire Protection Agency. “In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Escape planning and practice can help you make the most of the time you have, giving everyone enough time to get out.
This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign is: ‘Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!’ With that in mind, Kingston Fire and Rescue is hosting a number of public events throughout Fire Prevention Week.
On Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, Kingston Fire and Rescue personnel will be at two Kingston Frontenac Public Library branches to discuss home fire prevention and answer questions from those in attendance. Both sessions will be open to adults and families – children seven and older are welcome to attend if accompanied by an adult. The first session will take place at the Calvin Park Branch at 2 p.m., and the second will take place at the Isabel Turner branch at 7 p.m. There is no admission charge, but seating is limited, so register at calendar.kfpl.ca or by phone at (613) 549-8888.
Earlier in the year, Kingston Fire and Rescue partnered with Queen’s Gaels to award 10 pairs of Queen’s Football tickets to youths who successfully completed their home escape plan between September 16 and October 2. The winners will participate in a half-time firefighter challenge at the Queen’s Football game at Richardson Stadium on Thursday, Oct. 10, 2019. The game begins at 6 p.m., and those participating in the halftime challenge will earn themselves a Kingston Fire and Rescue Hero Kit. Those interested in attending can purchase tickets online or at the Queen’s Gaels box office.
Then on Friday, Oct. 11, 2019, Kingston Fire and Rescue’s Fire Prevention Team will provide an information session on home escape planning, and smoke and carbon monoxide alarms at Meals on Wheels and Diner’s Club.
As well, throughout the week, Kingston Fire and Rescue will also be visiting workplaces and Kingston General Hospital to discuss escape planning.
Although this year’s campaign focuses on house fires, their messaging about the importance of working alarms and escape plans apply to most any location, Kingston Fire and Rescue said.
“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” said Posadowski. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”
For more information on Fire Prevention Week and home escape planning, go to www.fpw.org.