The Great Chicago Fire was one that was never forgotten. In 1901, 40 years after this tragedy, the Fire Marshals Association of North America (FMANA) decided to observe this day in a way that would keep the public informed about the importance of fire prevention. Fire prevention week was formed and has been practiced ever since.
Fire prevention week was Oct. 5-11 this year. Cherokee Village Fire Chief, Mike Taylor wanted to use this week to announce a new program the Cherokee Village Fire Department will be starting. Taylor said with all of the recent storms and floods in the area, they found many people don't know about the weather alert radios available.
"People use their televisions and radios for storm alert and that's great, but the weather alert radios send out an alert called a SAME (specific area message encoding) Code that alerts our specific area of any watches or warnings," Taylor said.
"Anyone who cannot afford one of these radios can contact me and we will try to do something," Taylor said. Taylor is in the office Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and can be reached at 870-257-2304. "If we get enough interest in this program we will try to get radios to keep at the station for a reduced price," Taylor said.
Taylor said the department would be happy to come out to resident's homes and help them set their weather radios up and program them. "While we are there we can do free flue inspections and check all of the fire detectors," Taylor said.
Cherokee Fire Department offers free home and flue inspections to residents. "These are strictly confidential inspections, no paper work," Taylor said. "We can't fix any problems or clean the flue, but we can point out problems and recommend them to be fixed."
Taylor said they will do fire prevention programs, not just for schools, but for any organization any time of the year. Taylor said fire prevention week is a great thing but it should be practiced all year.
Several things can be practiced to help ensure fire safety and prevention. Taylor recommends that parents sit down and talk to their children about what to do if there is a fire in the home.
"We like to teach the kids EDITH (exit drills in the home)," Taylor said. "It is a proven fact that when a child sees smoke or knows there is a fire, their first instinct is to hide unless they are taught otherwise." Taylor said it is also very important to teach your children to never re-enter the home, no matter what.
Taylor said there are several things that can cause fire problems but one thing people may not think about that he wants to bring to the public's attention are video games and laptop computers. There have been over 3.6 million Playstation 2 recalled due to overheating. Taylor said it is very dangerous to set them on the carpet like he sees so often, because they can't get air.
One of the other things Taylor wants to educate people on is the high risk cleaning out fireplace ashes causes. Taylor said so many people take the ashes and just dump them in the woods or in piles of leaves.
"I have seen the coals and ashes stay hot for up to seven days," Taylor said. "People just don't realize they stay hot for so long. I recommend putting them in a container of some sort for at least a week before dumping them in leaf piles or in the woods."
Cherokee Village Fire Department visited the elementary school and preschool Oct. 8, to teach the kids about fire safety. "We suit up and let the kids see us in full gear so if they ever experience a fire they won't be scared of the fireman," Taylor said.