NEWS | Oct. 5, 2009

JTF-Bravo kicks off fire prevention week

By Staff Sgt. Chad Thompson Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

Fire prevention week began today with Col. Christopher Gehler, Joint Task Force-Bravo commander, signing the fire prevention proclamation at the JTF-Bravo headquarters building.

"Many of the structures we live and work in on base are made of wood so it is vitally important for us to maintain our awareness and practice good fire prevention on a daily basis," Colonel Gehler said. "Having a fire prevention week gives us the opportunity to practice these techniques, and helps us prevent any carelessness."

Staff Sgt. Jevon King, Soto Cano Air Base firefighter, said some of the primary causes of fires on base are improper use of extension cords, improper use of electrical appliances, using unapproved cooking appliances such as hot plates and toaster ovens, bad housekeeping practices and leaving cooking food unattended.

Fire prevention week was established to remember the Great Chicago Fire on Oct. 9, 1871, Sergeant King said. The tragic fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.

Every year during the week of Oct. 8 fire stations around the country reach out to the community to remind families the importance of fire prevention, he said.

"Even though we love fighting fires, we love life even more," Sergeant King said. "So the more we stress fire prevention to the community the more lives we like to believe we save."

According to http://www.firesafety.gov more than 4,000 Americans die each year in fires and approximately 20,000 are injured. The statistics show an overwhelming number of these fires occurred in homes.

Some facts about fires:

-In 2008, U.S. fire departments responded to 386,500 home fires. These fires killed 2,755 people. Eighty-three percent of all fire deaths resulted from home fires.

-Almost two-thirds of reported home fire deaths in 2003-2006 resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.

-About one in three home fires and deaths happened in the months of December, January and February.

-Cooking continues to be the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries.

-Smoking materials caused one of every four home fire deaths.

-The kitchen is the leading area of origin for home fires. However, bedrooms and living/family rooms are the leading areas of origin for home fire deaths.

Fire prevention events this week:

-Monday to Thursday the Soto Cano Fire Department will be working with about 30 Honduran fire fighters training on safety, search and rescue techniques, aircraft familiarization, and participating in structural live-fire training at the base burn house. Fire prevention week training will conclude in a graduation ceremony at the base pool Thursday at 2 p.m.

-Tuesday from 1 to 3 p.m. the fire department will have some local children on base. They will be teaching them the importance of fire safety, Sergeant King said. If anyone is interested in participating in the events contact the fire department.

-Thursday the fire department will be hosting a Muster challenge from 8:15 a.m. to 1 p.m. The Muster challenge is a relay obstacle course of basic firefighter tasks. Training and briefings will be conducted prior to the start of the event, Sergeant King said. For team entry or questions, call Senior Airman Josh Bell or Senior Airman Kyle Mull.

Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. the fire department  will have a barbecue lunch being served during the Muster challenge competition.