Firefighters stress importance of escape plan

In recognition of Fire Prevention Week

Submitted

Alberta is about to become part of Canada’s largest-ever fire safety education campaign that kicks off this Thursday and will involve thousands of primary school teachers and firefighters across the country.

The Canadian Association of Fire Chief’s Great Canadian Fire Drill is at the focal point of this year’s Fire Prevention Week that runs from Oct. 4-10. An estimated 75,000 teachers nationwide in Grades K-3 have been sent special lesson plans and classroom materials to help them teach young students the important task of creating a fire escape plan. Youngsters will then put their new knowledge to work with their siblings and parents to create and practice an Escape Plan at home.

“Fire safety needs to involve every member of the household,” says Fire Chief Brian Cornforth, Alberta’s provincial representative for the Canadian Association of Fire Chief (CAFC). “To start good safety habits at an early age, fire departments and teachers across Alberta will work together to educate our kids about fire and the importance of having an escape plan for their home.”

The campaign is not restricted to youngsters or just to Fire Prevention Week. All Alberta citizens are urged to ‘do the drill and count yourself in’ during the entire month of October. In addition to materials sent to teachers and fire departments, a campaign web site allows anyone to download their own free escape plan grid and complete a home safety checklist at www.safeathome.ca/drill.

Families can also print a personalized ‘We Did The Drill!’ certificate once they have created and practiced a drill at home and registered their participation. Sparky the Fire Dog is featured throughout the lesson plans, the student take-home materials and the web site.

“We’re issuing a challenge to see which city and province can create and practice the most escape plans during the month of October,” says Fire Chief Bruce Burrell, president of the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs. “Early response has been incredible. We gave teachers and fire departments access to the safe at home web site in advance of Fire Prevention Week and we already have dozens of registrations including many from Alberta. The Great Canadian Fire Drill is a fun and effective way to learn about fire safety that we hope can help avert tragedy in the future.”

National statistics indicate that there are some 300 fire-related deaths each year in Canada. Of that total, about 10 per cent of fatalities are children. Fire departments deem many losses of life as preventable.

“Slowly but surely, people across Alberta are realizing that smoke alarms are their first line of defense if a fire strikes their home,” said home fire specialist Carol Heller. “Early warning of fire danger can increase your chances of survival by 50 per cent. But it is also essential that when a smoke alarm goes off, everyone knows what to do and where to go. Industry research shows that families have less than three minutes to escape a fire. So creating and practicing a home fire escape plan plays a critical role in averting tragedy.”

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