The staff of St. Stephens Fire Department would like to thank Pastor Jeff Lindsay and the congregation of St. Luke’s Lutheran Church for allowing us to come and participate in a fire safety program. Pastor Lindsay is the Chaplin for St. Stephens Fire Department and has provided an outstanding service to our members and the St. Stephens community. Wednesday, November 13th, 2013, the St. Stephens Fire Department staff provided the fire safety program at St. Luke’s Lutheran Church. A wonderful Thanksgiving meal was provided by the church prior to the start of the presentation. The audience participating in the presentation was the senior group members of the Church which consisted of approx. 20 men and women. The fire department staff providing the presentation was Chief Shawn Greene, Deputy Chief Josh Randolph, and volunteer members Trever Farnsworth, David Perkoski, and Dylan Hill. The presentation was an hour long and included education of the 911 system, smoke detectors, and carbon monoxide detectors.
After a brief description of St. Stephens Fire Department and the service that is provided by the fire department, the presentation began with the 911 system operation and use. Explained was when and how to activate the 911 system and how emergency responders are notified and activated. 911 is available 24/7 and may be notified of any type of emergency or dangerous situation when the caller is not sure who to call. When calling 911 it is important to remain calm and speak clearly. Let the 911 operator ask the questions and remain on the line if not in immediate danger until emergency responders arrive or the 911 operator advises that is OK to hang the phone up. If calling 911, be prepared to give your name, address, phone number, and type of emergency that is being reported. If there is a fire in your home do not call 911 from your home. Call from a cell phone or a neighbor’s house. Discussed also was the use of cell phones. Old cell phones that are not activated but will at least power up has the ability to dial 911. When using the cell phone, while in motion, to report an emergency on the roadway, stay at the location of the incident until released by emergency responders or the 911 operator advises that is OK to leave the area.
Fire Department staff provided information and education on smoke alarms. Smoke alarms are an early warning device for fire and should be installed at a min. one per level of the home and at a min. one outside of each sleeping area. They should be installed at the highest point possible and 6 inches from any door, wall, or ceiling. Smoke alarms should not be installed in or near kitchens, bathrooms, garage, crawl space, attic, or any area that may be a dusty environment. If properly installed and maintained, smoke alarms are similar to having a fireman on watch at all times and increases your survival rate in smoke conditions to 50%. Most fire deaths occur from the smoke inhalation within the first five minutes of the fire beginning. The staff discussed and demonstrated installation, testing, and maintenance procedures for smoke alarms and provided smoke alarms and brochures for hands on demonstration. We reminded the audience to never assume that their smoke detectors work but to test their smoke alarms once a month and to change the batteries twice per year. An easy time to remember when to change your batteries is when the time change begins and ends. Also discussed were some basic fire safety procedures; if a smoke alarm alerts and there is smoke present do not investigate. Get out of the house and call 911 to report the emergency for the fire department. Once you are out of the structure, stay out!!! We remind everyone to not re-enter the structure until a firefighter says that it is OK to do so. Remember to plan, draw and practice exit drills with your family. Always have two ways out of a room and have a meeting place located outside in a safe area.
Fire Department staff also provided information and education on carbon monoxide (CO) alarms. Carbon monoxide is named the “silent killer” which is colorless, tasteless, and odorless. Carbon monoxide is originated from incomplete combustion which may be caused by any type of appliance that produces a flame or combustion from an engine running. Most people think that carbon monoxide only comes from propane or natural gas appliances but it was explained that carbon monoxide is also produced by fuel oil (kerosene), wood, and charcoal appliances. The majority of deaths occur from carbon monoxide when the person is asleep or by not being educated. When a fire death occurs, the majority of the time the death is due from CO poisoning rather than the fire. This is because of the smoke that is inhaled which is full of carbon monoxide because smoke is incomplete combustion that is produced by a flame off of a burning object. Due to this circumstance, it was explained to the group that carbon monoxide detectors were just as important as smoke alarms. They are very similar in testing, operation, and maintenance. The major difference is the way the CO alarms are installed vs. smoke alarms. Where smoke rises due to heated fire gasses, CO is equal to weight as the air that we breathe. Because of this fact, CO alarms may be placed high or low in the home wherever preferred but at a min. one CO alarm at the appliance in question and one CO alarm near the sleeping area. Most CO poisonings/deaths occur when the homeowner is asleep and does not have a tested and maintained CO alarm. CO allows the homeowner to fall into a deeper sleep until they become unconscious/ unresponsive and never wake up. The CO alarms are designed to detect and alert to CO before the dangerous levels affect you. Carbon monoxide affects people differently but if awake and CO poising occurs some of the signs/symptoms include flue like symptoms, fatigue, nausea, dizziness, and headaches, fainting, and altered mental status. If this occurs without being treated or removed from the hazardous environment, death may occur. Staff discussed simple ways to prevent CO and CO poisoning. Have working and maintained CO alarms, If using a kerosene heater, be sure to ventilate, do not use grills in doors, do not operate engines inside of the structure, have all heating appliances and chimney checked and cleaned annually, open dampers, and flues all the way when using the chimney. Finally we discussed the actions to take and the role of the fire department when there is an issue with carbon monoxide. Get out to a safe area and call 911! Do not vent the structure before the fire department arrives. If there are symptoms of CO poisoning, make the 911 operator aware so appropriate help/treatment will be on the way. The fire department does not fix the problem! We isolate the problem with detection devices, shut off the fuel and then vent the structure until no more CO is present so the homeowner may re-enter the structure safely. Always follow up with a professional service tech. before further use of the appliance!
St. Stephens Fire Department staff mentioned and explained the smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector program that we have in place. Fire department personnel will also come out to test, inspect, provide maintenance, and educate homeowners on smoke and CO alarms. Most fire departments in the area have a similar program. Please contact your local fire department directly for questions and concerns. For the citizens protected by St. Stephens Fire Department you may call 828-256-2375