Fire Prevention Week focuses on escape routes
HUNTINGTON -- Fire Prevention Week begins Monday, and Huntington will mark the occasion with its annual parade and visits to area schools spreading a message to remind everyone to "Have 2 Ways Out."
That theme will be seen throughout Monday night's parade, which will feature area dignitaries, businesses and schools. The 4th Avenue event begins at 7 p.m. at 12th Street and marches west to the intersection of 4th Avenue and 8th Street.
Huntington Fire Lt. Scott Ramey anticipates fire patrols from eight to 10 elementary schools will walk the route and perform a skit that reinforces this year's theme.
Ramey described this year's emphasis on escape routes as a crucial element of fire safety. They hope events such as the parade, skits, school visits and an essay contest will spread the message among children so the lesson lands in family rooms across the Tri-State.
"Most people, when they think of an emergency exit, they usually only focus on one particular way out of a house," he said. "What would happen if that one particular exit that you're trying to go for is blocked, whether it be by fire, water or collapse."
For many families, Ramey said the front door is their primary escape route. That leaves an alternative route through the back door, a window or down a stairwell.
A deadly Jan. 13, 2007, fire at the Emmons Apartment building underscores the need for a second way out, Ramey said. Flames blocked hallways and a stairwell, leaving many tenants with few options. Several escaped through windows with firefighter assistance.
Ramey acknowledged few fires grow that large, but he said the lesson remains the same in that people shouldn't overlook a window as an escape route.
In the case of elevated windows, Ramey said people should first open the window, wave a white sheet or yell and scream to get the firefighters' attention. He doesn't recommend jumping unless the flames enter the person's room of refuge, fire can be seen or the heat becomes unbearable.
"If your life is in imminent danger, do anything you can to keep yourself alive," he said. "I would rather have a broken leg and be alive than dead in a fire."
As part of Fire Prevention Week, the Huntington Fire Department held a female essay contest that recognized three local students. Each was asked to write an essay based upon this year's theme. Alivia Kirby of Guyandotte Elementary was recognized as Miss Spark; Abby Zickefoose of Enslow Middle as Miss Ember; and Allie Hildebrand of Huntington High as Miss Flame.
Fire Prevention Week, celebrated the first week of October each year, is sponsored and coordinated by the National Fire Protection Association. It commemorates the Great Chicago Fire, which started Oct. 8, 1871, and killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless and destroyed more than 17,400 structures.