WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - It’s National Fire Prevention Week and what better time to review your fire safety plan and fire codes than now.
Fire Prevention Week is observed each year to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which began on Oct. 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage for days. The fire killed about 300 people and causing $222 million in damage, which would equate to about $4 billion in 2019. The Great Chicago Fire left 100,000 people homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned over 2,000 acres of land.
“From historical fires, beginning with the Great Chicago Fire, our fire service in the country, and in our city, learn about how to keep people safe," said Wendy Giannini-King, the Community Risk Reduction Coordinator with the Wilmington Fire Department. "The fire code helps us make sure that public places are safe for people, new houses are safe for people, but really, it’s still up to you, the homeowner or the resident, in the city, in the county, in the country, to look through your house and make sure safe things are happening there; the risks are reduced, the preventable things are shaping up to be prevented.”
During Fire Prevention Week, adults and children learn how to stay safe in case of a fire thanks to local firefighters who provide education in an effort to drastically decrease deaths caused by fires.
“Historically, we’ve learned lots from fires and I don’t think we can discount history when it comes to dangerous things in the past," said Wendy. "Don’t think that it won’t happen to you, because there is always a possibility that it will but the possibility decreases if you really focus on prevention in your household.”
Fire prevention is important because in just seconds a life can be saved, or taken. Everyone is at risk for fires and Wendy says it’s important for everyone in the community to take some time during Fire Prevention Week to make sure how to stay safe. One way to prevent fires is to simply get rid of the risks.
“Don’t light that candle; flip the battery switch instead,” said Wendy. "Smoke outside if you’re smoking. Make sure you have a receptacle that’s a nice, safe receptacle. Don’t grill over the top of things that you know, like pine straw or mulch, could burn. Just use some sense and think of safety. Keep yourself and your family safe by preventing the things that don’t need to happen.”
This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” To learn more about this year’s campaign, click here.
The N.C. Forest Service is hosting the annual Fire in the Pines Festival on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Halyburton Park in Wilmington to spread awareness about fire prevention. There will be exhibits, booths, fire engines, a helicopter, live music, and food trucks from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. It’s free to attend.
To learn more about fire prevention week locally, click here.