Fire prevention week is being observed on a national level the week of Oct. 7 through 13 based off the theme "Have Two Ways Out."
An ongoing part of fire prevention week activity in West Fargo has been education in the classroom as well as tours of the Fire Department at First Street, and this year will be no exception.
Fire Inspection Officers Dell Sprecher and Kendel Frost are coordinating the effort with a monthlong education program that started in September and will continue through November, due to growing number of students in the district and the ability to pay visits to all the intended classrooms.
Preschool and daycare visits were the first order of business the week of Sept. 24, followed by the Kindergarten tours that began Oct. 1 and continue through this week.
The next phase will be visits to all the West Fargo School Districts grades one through three classrooms; and the distribution of fire prevention literature to all classes through grade five.
Sprecher said the sessions will be focusing on the theme of having two ways out in the event a fire occurs.
"We will be telling them to be rabbit-ready to go," said Sprecher, "by either being prepared to exit through a door or by having a second way out, like a window."
Sprecher added that this strategy is crucial.
According to the National Fire Protection Association's 2012 Fire Prevention Week brochure, "many people underestimate how fast fire spreads, so they don't take escape planning seriously. In 2012, home fires were reported every 85 seconds, killing 2,640 people and injuring 13,350."
Fire and smoke can quickly spread in a matter of minutes and having an exit plan which families and businesses practice can be life saving.
It is important that the fire exit plan includes a second escape route in case the nearest exit is blocked.
Sprecher and Frost will also be emphasizing the importance of changing smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
Residents are always encouraged to change their batteries whenever they set their clocks for daylight savings time. They are also encouraged to make sure they have a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of their home; use the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month; never remove or disable a smoke alarm; replace the battery immediately, if an alarm "chirps," warning the battery is low; replace all batteries once a year; vacuum any dust that may accumulate on your smoke alarm monthly; and entirely replace your smoke alarm at least every ten years because they become less sensitive over time.
Sprecher said he and Frost look forward to the annual fire prevention observance because the students are always so receptive. "They are always excited to come to the fire station and they are always willing to listen so that makes it a lot of fun."
Sprecher and Frost along with West Fargo Fire Chief Roy Schatschneider and a crew of 37 volunteer firefighters make up the entire West FArgo Fire Department squad.
Schatschneider said the entire crew does an outstanding job adding he is most appreciative to the employers who allow the volunteer firefighters time away from work to protect the community. These businesses include: Adventure RV, Border Area Adjustment, Cargill Oil Seed, Caterpillar Remanufacturing, Central Door & Hardware, City of West Fargo, Crary Industries, Grainger, Metz Co., Mid America Aviation, Monsanto, West Fargo Park District and the West Fargo School District.
Anyone with questions about fire prevention week or any other related aspect is encouraged to contact the West Fargo Fire Department at 701-433-5380.