Getting the Message out on Fire Safety to Litchfield Families

October 7, 2016


by David S. Morin

Fire trucks, smoke and Litchfield residents filled the grounds of the Litchfield fire station on Sunday for the department’s annual fire prevention activities.  Each year firefighters spend much time preparing for the day to get the message out on fire safety.

Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, the tragic 1871 conflagration that killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres.  The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871.  Today, fire prevention events are held across the country to remind all of us about the importance of fire prevention.

As children we learned to sleep with our bedroom doors closed at night in the case of fire.  We are told that in many cases during a fire that smoke is a cause of death not the flames but if a person has never had the experience in heavy smoke conditions this may be hard to understand.

Firefighter Seth Lucas found a way for everyone to see how smoke reacts in a fire by building a prop display for the open house.  The tabletop size, two-story house prop, built from plywood, is generally used for fire behavior training for firefighters.  With materials found in the normal home, a fire can be ignited the prop to show how smoke spreads through a home and how a closed door can make a difference to save a life.  Those watching the demonstration expressed their amazement of how fast thick smoke was produced as firefighters explained the importance of crawling low in smoke, getting out fast, and if a person could not escape keeping the bedroom door closed.

Other events gave visitors a chance to use a home fire extinguisher to extinguish a stovetop fire and learn about general safety with several community groups participating.

Many activities were set up for the kids, although fun for them, each providing a learning experience.  The foam station permitted the kids to spread foam across the station lawn as they learned about fire safety in the woodland areas.  A second station used a water fire extinguisher to put out a real fire.

This year the National Fire Protection Association emphasized the need for residents to check the age of their home’s smoke detectors.  A recent data from a NFPA survey shows that the public has many misconceptions about smoke alarms, which may put them at increased risk in the event of a home fire.  Few people know how old their smoke alarms are, or how often they need to be replaced.  As a result of those and related findings, the NFPA is addressing smoke alarm replacement this year with a focus on these key messages:

Smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years.

Make sure you know how old all the smoke alarms are in your home.

To find out how old a smoke alarm is, look at the date of manufacture on the back of the alarm; the alarm should be replaced 10 years from that date.

The highlight of the day was a live fire sprinkler demonstration.  Fires were set in two identical room size structures, one with a sprinkler system and one without.  As the fires grew, flames spread heat across the ceiling of the rooms; within one minute the sprinkler activated, dousing the fire and leaving little fire damage to the furnishings.  In the second room the fire spread completely destroying the building structure and furniture.

The annual Litchfield Fire Chili Cook-off.  Throughout the day attendees could sample the entrees and place their vote for the best tasting.  The winning chili went to Mike Cahoon, finishing in second place was Phil Durand and in third place was Marci Newell.

Firefighters want to remind residents that fire prevention and safety needs to be practiced 365 days a year.