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CKFR urges local families to practice fire safety

A fire rips through a home late at night and a family of four escape the residence unscathed thanks to their well-rehearsed escape plan.

National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 7-13 and fire agencies across the country are hosting activities centered around this year’s theme: “Practice Your Fire Escape Plan.”

Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. First proclaimed as a national event in 1920 by President Woodrow Wilson, Fire Prevention Week marks the anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire.

Kitsap County fire agencies emphasize the importance of working smoke alarms and practicing fire escape plans and are partnering with elementary schools served by Central Kitsap Fire & Rescue, Poulsbo Fire Department, North Kitsap Fire & Rescue and South Kitsap Fire & Rescue for a contest.

“We know we can’t prevent fires from starting so we recognize the need for people to practice a fire escape plan,” said Theresa MacLennan, CKFR spokeswoman.

Fire agencies sent instructions for escape plans to local elementary schools. Students were instructed to practice the fire escape plans at home with an adult and bring the plans back to school. MacLennan will then review the plans and offer helpful tips. Each student who returned a plan will receive a pencil and ruler. At every participating school, the classroom that returned the highest number of completed plans will win an ice cream party with firefighters, courtesy of the International Association of Fire Fighters, Local 2819 and Local 2876.

“We want to be sure the kids really understand the message,” MacLennan said.

MacLennan said a well-designed fire escape plan should include the following:

• Working smoke alarms on every level of the home and an alarm in every sleeping area

• Two identified ways out of every room

• One family meeting place outside the home

• Accommodations for any special needs such as infants, elderly and disabled people

MacLennan also said people should practice the fire escape plan often, at least twice a year.

“It’s like riding a bike or dribbling a basketball,” she said. “You might not be real proficient with it at first but the more you practice the better you get.”

CKFR and other Kitsap County fire agencies also are participating in the “Give Burns the Boot” drive during Fire Prevention Week. The drive will be hosted at local retail outlets today to benefit the Northwest Burn Foundation. Firefighters will be at Ralph’s Red Apple Market on Kitsap Way from 8 a.m. to noon and at Fred Meyer on Wheaton Way throughout the day collecting donations for the Northwest Burn Foundation.

CKFR is hosting a free open house from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. today at Fire Station 51 on Silverdale Way in Silverdale. People can eat chili and tour fire engines.

“Maybe even see the firefighters take off on a call,” MacLennan said.

Other free Kitsap County fire safety events this month include:

• Saturday, Oct. 13, 9 a.m.-12 p.m. at Silverdale and Poulsbo Home Depots. CKFR, Poulsbo Fire Department and Home Depot host a fire safety event. Children can build wooden fire engines.

• Saturday, Oct. 27, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Ridgetop Junior High School. CKFR and NKFR will review home fire and hazards safety with 7-12-year-olds at the American Red Cross Safety Saturday.

• Firefighters will visit elementary schools and preschools throughout the county to provide fire safety information.

For information about fire escape planning, home safety surveys, school and community fire and injury prevention presentations in Central Kitsap contact MacLennan at (360) 447-3550. For information about Fire Prevention Week and fire safety, visit the Web site at www.firepreventionweek.org.

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