Cape fire stations tours today from 9 a.m. to noon
From 2003-2006, approximately two-thirds of home fire deaths occurred in residences with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
On Thursday, Mayor John Sullivan proclaimed Oct. 3-9 as National Fire Prevention Week in Cape Coral. A national observance, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The week, recognized annually since 1925, focuses on fire safety and prevention.
This year the theme is: “Smoke Alarms: A sound you can live with.”
“We’re trying to promote and remind people that working smoke detectors save lives,” Public Education Specialist Dave Webster of the Cape Coral Fire Department said. “It’s as simple as reaching up and pushing the button that says test on it.”
According to the National Fire Protection Association, of the two-thirds of home fire deaths reported from 2003-2006, no smoke alarms were present in 40 percent of the deaths. In 23 percent of the deaths, smoke alarms were present but they did not make a sound.
Smoke alarms cut the risk of dying in a reported fire in half.
Fire Chief Bill Van Helden said there have been some serious house fires in the Cape in the past couple of years. In many cases, a smoke alarm alerted the occupants to the fire and the occupants were able to evacuate in time.
“The issue is personal responsibility,” he said.
New homes are required to have smoke alarms, but fire safety inspections of residences are not conducted like inspections of commercial buildings are.
“That’s why the responsibility is on the homeowner,” Van Helden said.
He suggested that residents check their smoke alarms on a regular basis, such as in the spring and the fall when they change the time on their clocks.
According to a 2008 telephone survey, most homes — 96 percent — have at least one smoke alarm, the National Fire Protection Association reported. Overall, three-quarters of all homes have at least one working smoke alarm.
Each year, nearly 3,000 people due in U.S. home fires.
The Lee County Red Cross urges residents who do not have smoke alarms in their home to have them installed, and those with smoke alarms should make sure they have been properly maintained and updated. Replace smoke alarm batteries at least once a year and test the smoke alarms on a regular basis.
“The largest percentage of home fire deaths occur in homes with no smoke alarms or alarms that don’t work,” Disaster Director John Cain said. “Smoke alarms provide a few minutes of advance warning in the event of a home fire, and that extra time can save lives.”
The Lee County Red Cross suggests installing a smoke alarm on every level of a home, as well as inside bedrooms and outside of sleeping areas. Keeping the alarm clean by vacuuming over and around it regularly can keep dust and debris from interfering with the alarm’s operation. Do not paint over them.
Officials said this is the first year that the city officially recognized National Fire Prevention Week with a proclamation.
Sullivan called the week important.
“So that people remember that fire is dangerous business,” the major said. “Fire Prevention Week calls attention to the fact that they need to be more involved in their own safety.”
In recognition of Fire Prevention Week, the Cape Coral Fire Department is hosting “Open House at the Fire House” at all 10 stations from 9 a.m.-noon Saturday. Citizens are encouraged to stop by their neighborhood fire station to meet the firefighters and take a tour of the facility for the first time.
Residents can learn about the equipment used by firefighters and what a firefighter’s job entails and there will be chances for adults and children to climb inside a fire truck. Attendees will be allowed to take photographs and take-home literature will be available on National Fire Prevention Week.