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Fire Prevention Week: Not just a one-time-a-year thought

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Most people, especially on an Air Force base, know their fire prevention personnel as those firefighters that go around telling them they cannot daisy chain there extension cords or they need to remove the door stop holding open the fire door. The main objective of every fire department throughout the country is not to put out fires, but to prevent them from ever occurring.

Throughout the year, the fire prevention office educates a multitude of personnel; from brand new Airmen at the First Term Airmen Center, to new base housing occupants, to civilian employees, just to name a few venues. Every October fire departments throughout the country host the granddaddy of fire education and awareness known as, Fire Prevention Week. Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Each year Air Mobility Command installations recognize Fire Prevention Week and support the nationwide theme developed by the National Fire Protection Association. The Fire Prevention Week theme for this year is "Have 2 Ways Out" and will occur the week of Oct. 7-13.

All AMC personnel should keep their focus to ensure national and community assets are protected. AMC's proactive fire prevention approach has been effective in keeping the number of fires well below the national average of other communities. In 2011, the average number of actual AMC fire responses as compared to all fire emergency responses was 2 percent compared to the 5 percent of actual fire emergency responses in the civilian community. Even though this is a small percent, there is always a cost associated with fires to both the Air Force and the owner/occupant, not to mention the possible loss of life.

During Fire Prevention Week, AMC fire departments will host an array of activities. There will be live fire demonstrations and educational and hands-on events throughout the week. Events such as letting children crawl through the smokehouse, both children and adult firefighter challenge/fire muster competitions, base parades, visits to schools, youth centers and child development centers, poster contests, 5K runs, golf tournaments and visits withSparky.

While the events only occur for a week, the message of this year's Fire Prevention Week, "Have 2 Ways Out" should not be forgotten.

According to a recent survey by the NFPA, only one-third of Americans have both developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. Almost, three-quarters of Americans do have an escape plan; however, less than half actually practiced it. It is important to have a home fire escape plan that prepares families to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds. This year's theme, "Have 2 Ways Out" focuses on the importance of fire escape planning and practice. Therefore, take time during the week to develop a home escape plan and practice it throughout the year. For assistance with designing a plan, contact your local fire department. Families should also invest some time in talking about fire safety and the dangers of unattended cooking, which was the biggest cause of fires on Air Force installations in 2010 and 2011. The few extra minutes spent planning and practicing a fire escape plan could mean the difference between preventing a fire from starting or escaping a fire unharmed.

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