‘Plan a Record-Breaking Escape’ is challenge for Fire Prevention Week

WELLINGTON COUNTY – It’s a message that bears repeating, and sadly, never gets old because it’s a scenario that can devastate a family, and a community: “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape.” 

That is the message behind the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 9 to 15. 

The Ontario Fire Marshall (OFM) is aligning with that theme through fire departments across the province by issuing a challenge to everyone to “Plan a Record-Breaking Escape.”  

Creating safe, virtual fire safety experiences, the Mapleton Fire Department will bring the interactive Fire Safety House to its community Fire Prevention Day, which includes the annual Firefighter’s Pancake Breakfast on Oct. 15, from 8 to 11am at the PMD arena.

Mapleton Fire Chief Rick Richardson says the annual breakfast event is important, and one that was missed during pandemic closures. 

The annual Mapleton firefighters pancake breakfast, a popular tradition pre-pandemic, will return this year on Oct. 15. Mapleton Fire Chief Rick Richardson helped serve at the firefighters breakfast at the PMD arena in 2019.
Advertiser file photo

“We’ve always had a Fire Prevention Day with about 500 to 600 people coming for a pancake breakfast and we had the fire safety house there and some drills for the kids to do, like spraying the water, things like that and it was a good time. People really enjoyed it,” Richardson said.

He added he is looking forward to this year’s event, not only to see the community come together, but to help spread awareness of the theme of quick fire escapes. 

“Awareness is key,” Richardson said, noting the fire safety house leaves an important impression on children. 

“We emphasize the smoke alarms and knowing how to get out of your house,” Richardson said. “And at the end, we have a smoke push button that makes a harmless smoke come out, and as the smoke goes high, we teach them to go low to get out of the house. So, we take them in the back of the house and get them out, and can show how fast smoke alarms actually work.” 

Richardson added, “And I think that kind of activity catches the message with the kids, because when we go to visit schools, the kids remember the details of what to do, knowing their way out of the house to get outside, how to have a meeting place outside. All that information we’ve given them is coming back to them, so I think it’s effective.”

parky the Fire Dog was always a popular attraction at Fire Prevention Week events in the past.
Advertiser file photo

Fire Chief Chris Harrow, who oversees the fire departments in Minto and Wellington North, said both support the OFM messaging for this year’s theme. 

They continue to educate the public at community events, including the upcoming Halloween Haunt in Harriston on Oct. 28, plus parades and other community gatherings.

Harrow said it is important for people to understand that time is critical in a house fire situation.

He reminds homeowners about fast-burning homes, and the difference between a legacy home versus a modern home. 

“A modern home room will flash over or become totally involved with fire in about four to five minutes. Whereas the legacy rooms, so the rooms like our grandparents used to have with natural furniture and all that natural wood products, took about 20 minutes for it to become fully involved in fire,” Harrow said, recalling a training video that showed those situations in real-time. 

“That video has always stuck with me that the modern homes and how open concept they are, they get so involved with fire and smoke so fast, like four to five minutes, that you have to have that warning of those smoke alarms to warn you early to get out, because you really don’t have that much time.”

Harrow notes getting a fire evacuation message out to school aged children is done with the practice of fire drills at school, but he believes we need that same effort in our homes.

“We practice at the schools all the time, but if people don’t practice at home…” Harrow said. “If there’s a fire in your living room, again with the open concept and you can’t get to you front door, have you had that discussion with a family about well, what are other options?”

Harrow adds, “People need to take it upon themselves to make sure that their warning systems and their smoke alarms and their carbon monoxide alarms are working properly.” 

Seconds count. The challenge to “Plan a Record-Breaking Escape” has been issued. 

For details on how to create a home escape plan, contact a local fire department or visit nfpa.org for information, activities and games to learn more about fire safety.

WriteOut of Her Mind