News: Only you can prevent kitchen fires
Story by Pfc. Samuel Ranney
MARINE CORPS LOGISTICS BASE BARSTOW, Calif. - On October 8-9, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, and destroyed more than 17,000 buildings. Also on October 8, 1871, the Peshtigo Fire, in Northeast Wisconsin, killed 1,152 people and burned 1.2 million acres before it ended - these tragedies sparked a nationally recognized week of fire prevention.
Fire Prevention Week takes place on the Sunday through Saturday that Oct. 8-9 fall on; this year it was held on Oct. 6–12.
Each year has a different theme, explained Michelle Bledsoe, fire prevention inspector on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif.
“This year’s theme was ‘Prevent Kitchen Fires,’” Bledsoe added.
Bledsoe, who has been recognizing Fire Prevention Week on MCLB Barstow for more than 20 years, revealed that cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.
This year, the base fire department and fire prevention inspectors sponsored a variety of activities with local children of all ages.
Children 3 years and older from the Child Development Center here took a field trip to the fire station, said Bledsoe. They learned basic fire prevention tips, visited Sparky the Fire Dog, sat in a fire truck, sprayed a fire hose, and interacted with a fireman in-and-out of uniform.
Bledsoe explained the interaction with the fireman was very valuable.
“The fireman started out talking to the children in plain clothes. As he talked to them, he slowly put on his gear … explaining each piece of it,” Bledsoe said. “This is good so the children know not to be afraid of (firefighters) … even if they look and sound like monsters with the gear on, the children will know whose underneath.”
Bledsoe added the children seemed to thoroughly enjoy the activities.
“It was beneficial … the children got first-hand fire safety tips and had a lot of fun,” added Taylor Cardoza, lead level program assistant at the base CDC. “They learned to stop, drop and roll, to never play with fire and to always crawl under smoke. They also really enjoyed sitting in the truck, spraying the fire hose and visiting Sparky.”
The following day, the fire prevention inspectors visited 1-and-2-year-olds at the CDC with firefighters and Sparky.
“This was a really good first introduction to fire safety,” explained Kimberly Caunan, lead care giver in the pre-toddler room. “The children were all very excited to visit with the firefighters.”
For school age children on base, the fire department and inspectors visited the Youth Activity Center here. They played a variety of games based on team work, fire prevention and safety knowledge, explained Joann Williams, fire prevention inspector on MCLB Barstow.
“Fire Prevention Week promotes fire safety within the community,” said Williams. “We always promote fire safety while we’re on the job; but this week gives us the opportunity to sit down with children and parents and go into detail.”
In 2011, there were an estimated 156,300 house fires; this resulted in 470 deaths and 5,390 injuries, explained Williams. With numbers that high and such tragedies occurring in the past, annual Fire Prevention Week and daily awareness is a must to promote safety.