Throughout October, firefighters from the Palatka Fire Department have been visiting area schools to teach children about fire safety as part of the department’s annual October observance of Nation Fire Prevention Month.
October was chosen for Fire Prevention Month to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 and to educate people about the importance of fire prevention, preparedness, and the role everyone can play in reducing the risk of fires.
“Education to prevent fires is as much a part of our job as putting fires out,” said Chad Branford, Palatka Fire Marshal and Assistant Fire Chief, “Stopping a fire before it starts is much better than putting one out in someone’s home.”
According to Chief Branford, the City fire department responds to approximately 25 working house fires a year. Most of those fires don’t spread very far because of the department’s 4 to 6-minute response time addresses in the City.
The chief says most fires are easily preventable.
“Unattended cooking is the number one cause of house fires, period,” said Chief Branford. “People put something on the stove or the grill, walk away, and forget it. It happens all the time.”
“Also, around the holidays, we see a lot of problems with extension cords. People run multiple extension cords for holiday lights in older homes. They don’t have outlets, so they’ll daisy chain cords together using 2-prong extension cords, which is terrible. The lights will require more amperage than the cords can tolerate, and it will start a fire.” he continued.
Chief Branford also urges homeowners to be proactive in their own fire safety by having a fire evacuation plan and practicing it with their children.
“If you have children, have a plan. Teach if you have a fire, get out and stay out. Don’t go back in.” he said.
It is also critical to have working fire detectors in the home. According to Chief Branford, seconds count in a fire, and working smoke detectors give you those critical seconds.
“Detectors save lives,” said Chief Branford.
And the fire department is here to help. Palatka homeowners who don’t have detectors can call the Fire Department at (386) 329-0120, and they will install one for you for free.
Any school or organization in the City interested in a fire prevention program is also asked to call the Palatka Fire Department at (386) 329-0120.
“In Palatka, we are here 24 hours a day, every day for the year, and only a phone call and a few minutes away,” said Chief Branford.