By Mr. Kenneth Fidler (IMCOM)October 6, 2008
YONGSAN GARRISON, Republic of Korea - Fire Prevention Week 2008 begins and ends at home. That's the message Yongsan fire prevention experts want to get out to the community.
"Prevent Home Fires" is the official national theme for this year's weeklong observance, which runs Oct. 5-12. The Yongsan Fire Department has scheduled activities to help educate community members that the leading causes of home fires - cooking, smoking and heating - are the easiest to prevent.
"Fire prevention starts at home, so we want to reinforce that message," said Yongsan Fire Chief Alex Temporado. "Fortunately at Yongsan, we have had few home fires, but the ones we have had were mainly from cooking."
The week is a good time to go through some simple fire prevention reminders, said John Derengowski, fire department chief of technical services.
"Have you tested your smoke detector' Do you leave the stove on when you leave the kitchen' Do you have fire extinguishers within easy reach' Do you have an evacuation plan' These are things that we want to remind the community about," Derengowski said.
In addition, fire prevention poster contests are underway at the elementary and middle schools. The deadline to turn them in is Oct. 6, with judging taking place later in the week. The top three winners will earn Army and Air Force Exchange Service gift cards.
Derengowski said the big community event of the week is Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the parking lot next to the Yongsan Fire Department, complete with grilled hamburgers and hotdogs, compliments of United Service Organizations.
Garrison firefighters will join forces with their Korean counterparts from the Yongsan District Fire Department to set up displays and events. Children and adults can try their hand at an escape chamber.
Firefighters will also give classes on using a fire extinguisher and basic cardio-pulmonary resuscitation.
Later that day, firefighters will put on a kitchen fire safety demonstration at Hannam Village from 1:30-3 p.m.
The Fire Department will also open their doors to school children during the week for tours and various fire prevention education events, Derengowski said, such as how to properly escape from a smoke-filled room.
Children will also get the chance to talk to Pluggie, a talking fire hydrant robot that helps firefighters deliver prevention messages.
"He's a robot. He turns around, his eyes blink and he talks to the kids to help emphasize fire prevention techniques. The kids love him," Derengowksi said. "We use him to help go through some of the more important things to remember, like memorizing the emergency fire reporting number."
Fire Prevention Week is the oldest public health and safety observance on record, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
The week always includes Oct. 9, the day of the Great Chicago Fire in 1871. The fire killed more than 200 people and destroyed nearly 4 square miles of the city.