Fire Prevention Week urges: ‘Don’t wait – Check the Date!’

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Aaron J. Jenne
  • 436th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

Col. Ethan Griffin, 436th Airlift Wing commander, Chief Master Sgt. Andy Morris, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department fire chief, and Sparky the Fire Dog signed the Fire Prevention Week proclamation Oct. 6, 2016, at Dover AFB.


The proclamation signing was just one of several events intended to increase fire prevention awareness on Dover AFB. This week, members of Team Dover can participate in a kickoff bash at the Base Housing office, a Fire Muster, where teams compete in firefighter-type physical trials, a Fire Department Open House and a blood drive.


“Ruff, ruff, growl, ruff,” said Elijah Arnett, 436th Civil Engineer Squadron Fire Department firefighter, who was dressed as Sparky the Fire Dog for the proclamation signing. “Every year we get to host a bunch of fun events for the base. It’s great watching everyone enjoy themselves and to see the children and families learn fire safety. Fire prevention is really important, and it’s something that’s really easy to forget about. These events are our way to remind Team Dover to be safe and have fun doing it.”


According to the National Fire Protection Association, this annual event commemorates a fire that burned its way into history 145 years ago.


The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 set blaze to more than 17,400 structures on more than 2,000 acres. It claimed the lives of more than 250 people and left more than 100,000 homeless. While the exact cause is unknown, the impact still drives innovation in fire prevention.


Forty years later, the Fire Marshals Association of North America decided to commemorate the anniversary by informing the public about the importance of fire prevention. After nine years recognizing the anniversary, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation in 1920 and Fire Prevention Week has been observed since 1922 with the president signing proclamations every year since 1925.


Each year, this commemorative week is observed from Sunday to Saturday of the week in which October 9 falls.


According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record.


Each year’s observances focus on a new theme, with 2016’s titled: “Don’t Wait – Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years.”


“Most people know they need to make sure their batteries are good, but did you know your smoke alarm has a life expectancy?” asked Staff Sgt. Julio Madera, 436th CES Fire Department lead fire inspector. “Smoke alarms can literally save your life and the lives of your family, so you want to make sure they work at peak performance. Anything less just isn’t good enough.”


Madera suggested changing batteries every three months and cleaning smoke detectors routinely to make sure they work when needed.


This year’s theme may focus on smoke alarms, but that does not limit the message of fire prevention; every preventative measure is important.


“Every step you take toward fire prevention is one step further toward keeping your family safe,” Madera said. “Make sure you keep your eyes open and look for anything that doesn’t look right. If something doesn’t look safe, it probably isn’t.”


Unattended lit candles, exposed wires and overloading outlets are all unnecessary risks that could be avoided, Madera added. Holiday decorations and other seasonal electric items need to be inspected before use. Members should not use anything they think might be unsafe.


Madera said anyone who has questions about fire safety and prevention can call the fire department. The fire prevention section has material on a wide range of topics, and they are there to answer questions.


“We don’t want to fight fires,” Madera said. “We’d much rather do our job by informing the public about what they can do to prevent fires. It’s much better to spend a little time taking actions to prevent a fire than to try to recover after one.”


The weeks invents include:


Tuesday, Oct. 11

4:30 – 6:30 p.m.: Kickoff Bash at the Base Housing Office


Wednesday, Oct. 12

2 – 2:30 p.m.: Welch Elementary School visit

3 p.m.: ‘Battle of the Badges’ security forces vs fire department softball game on Field #1


Thursday, Oct. 13

9 a.m. – noon: St. John’s School Tour at the fire department

1:30 p.m.: Fire Muster at the fire department


Friday, Oct. 14

9 a.m.: Child Development Center fire drill followed by reading time with Sparky the Fire Dog

3:30 p.m.: Youth Center fire drill followed by reading time with Sparky the Fire Dog


Saturday, Oct. 15

11 a.m. – 2: p.m.: Fire Department Open House and Military Appreciation Day Picnic at the Fire Department


Monday, Oct. 17

9 a.m. – 1 p.m.: fourth annual ‘Battle of the Badges’ Blood Drive at the Base Chapel.


“Please come out and support the fire department during Fire Prevention Week,” Madera said. “Don’t wait – Check the Date!’ on your smoke detectors, and if you notice anything’s out of line, call and ask us about it. That’s our job. We’re here for you.”


For an emergency, always dial 911. For non-emergency information about fire prevention call (302) 677-4401.