The National Fire Protection Association has designated Oct. 7-13 as "Fire Prevention Week" whereupon fire agencies across the United States mobilize to help educate citizens about fire safety and prevention.
In recognition of the week, the Violet Township Fire Department will host an open house from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at Fire Station 592, 5700 Refugee Road.
"This is the same thing we've been doing for several years," said Lt. Greg Eisenacher of the Violet Township Fire Department.
"It's the final Sunday of Fire Prevention Week," Eisenacher said. "We'll have all our trucks out and we'll have our personnel here. We'll also have two fire safety houses for the kids to walk through.
"It's usually a very busy event. We make sure the community knows all we have to offer."
The theme of next weekend's event is "Have Two Ways Out," which Fire Chief John Eisel said will stress the importance of families charting an escape plan for their household.
"The important part is to educate every member of the family so they're on the same page," Eisel said. "So however their residence is configured, they all know a secondary way out of the structure.
"And, if the normal means of egress is blocked you have to have an alternate path to safety," Eisel said.
"We also emphasize families meet with their children and (choose) a meeting place such as a tree in the front yard, so they have a landmark place that is identified."
According to information provided by the Violet Township Fire Department, U.S. fire departments responded to 369,500 home structure fires in 2010, which ended up causing 13,350 civilian injuries, 2,640 civilian deaths, and $6.9 billion in direct damage.
"One home structure fire was reported every 85 seconds in 2010," Eisel said.
"Fire is unpredictable and moves faster than most people realize," he said.
"It is important to have a home fire escape plan that prepares your family to think fast and get out quickly when the smoke alarm sounds," Eisel said.
"If your first escape route is blocked by smoke or flames, having two ways becomes imperative to saving the lives of you and your loved ones."
Eisel said the smoke house is a fun and educational way for children to practice the procedures and it reinforces what is taught to them when the department does safety programming in the schools.
"We want them to practice this," he said. "We use theatrical smoke, which is non-toxic."
Eisenacher said children also "get to spray water and pretend to put out a fire.
"They see how hard it is to handle a hose and get an appreciation for what we do," Eisenacher said.
In addition to the smoke house, area residents can get their fire extinguishers inspected or serviced, purchase a second floor escape ladder, find out about services offered by Diley Ridge Medical Center and Children's Close to Home, and have their children dress up in fire gear and get a picture taken with Sparky the Fire Dog.
Balloons and fire helmets will be handed out and refreshments will be served.
Eisel said among the vehicles displayed will be the department's new "Pierce" fire engine, now in service.
He said the $110,000 engine just recently responded to its first big fire, a 2-alarm blaze at the Lakes Edge apartments on September 16.
He said attendees can expect to view all of the department's vehicles as well as meet its personnel.
"It's always been a great showcase for the community. We'll have our firefighters on hand to answer questions and this will showcase what we're all about," Eisel said.