FIRE PROTECTION WEEK: Bringing fire protection awareness to the community to the community

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photo by Kim Cameron | Firefighter Ken Wilkinson highlights fire safety with Kremmlng preschoolers.
photo by Kim Cameron | Firefighter Ken Wilkinson highlights fire safety with Kremmlng preschoolers.

by Marissa Lorenz
It is Fire Prevention Week, a national awareness campaign held for more than 90 years. But like most events of 2020, it will look a little different this year. Typically a time when local fire departments go into schools and invite the public into their stations, those activities have been curtailed or modified for safety concerns.

Kremmling Fire Protection District has continued their educational outreach to the West Grand’s preschool and elementary students, taking some of their classes outside and welcoming home and distance-learning students to the Kremmling Fire Station, according to Kremmling Fire Captain Brady Mathis.

“We work to communicate appropriately with each grade level,” explains Mathis, “introducing them to who we are, what our roles are, and how we might interact with them if something were to happen. We try to ease their nervousness about firefighters as loud people in weird suits during a time of crisis.”

He goes on to say that, with older students, a large focus is now placed on the use of battery-powered devices, like phones and video games, how they generate heat, and the fire dangers associated with them.

“We also have the good fortune to have Ken Wilkinson, a 20-year organizer of Fire Prevention Week in Kremmling,” Mathis notes.

“We have recruits who remember Ken from when he presented to their classrooms years ago.”

The awareness week is being observed across the county with a Grand County public proclamation and with virtual and media outreach supporting this year’s theme, “Serve up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”

According to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States. Almost half of reported home fires start in the kitchen. 66% of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. And Thanksgiving is the leading day for fires involving cooking equipment.

This year’s campaign is working “to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.”

“The most important step you should take before making a meal is to ‘Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!’ notes Grand Fire Chief Brad White. “A cooking fire can grow quickly.

I have seen many homes damaged and people injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.”
“We know cooking fires can be prevented,” said Lorraine Carli, NFPA’s vice-president of outreach and advocacy. “Staying in the kitchen, using a timer, and avoiding distractions such as electronics or TV are steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes.”

Additional safety tips to minimize the risk of a cooking fire include the following.

  • Never leave cooking food unattended. Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling. If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert when cooking. You won’t be alert if you are sleepy, have taken medicine or drugs, or consumed alcohol that makes you drowsy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking. If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flame. Turn off the burner, and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Have a “kid-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

To find out more about the Kremmling Fire Protection District or to volunteer, go to KremmlingFire. org. To learn more about “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!”, visit Grand Fire Protection District’s Facebook page for a week-long series of fire safety videos. For more general information about Fire Prevention Week and cooking fire prevention, visit www.fpw.org.