| Oct 16, 2008

Oct 16/08 - Fire Prevention Day in Burridge

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Feature Article - October 16, 2008 Fire Prevention Day at SF Station 2 in BurridgeBy Julie Druker

Capt. Carl Knapp, Morgan Noonan with her firefighter Dad, Mike Noonan and firefighter Kyle Reynolds

With winter approaching, fire stations throughout the Frontenacs hosted timely fire awareness, prevention and safety fundraising open houses to pass on tips to the public on how to keep their homes and families safe and fire free.

At station 2 in Burridge, Captain Carl Knapp along with volunteer firefighters Kyle Reynolds and Mike Noonan, barbequed hotdogs, and served up blueberry pie and beverages to those who stopped in for a visit.

A table laden with educational pamphlets and kids’ toys helped to put their important message across.

Fire fighter Bradley Greenslade helps his 4-year-old son Braden extinguish a grease fire at Station 2 in Burridge, part of their fundraiser and awareness campaign for fire prevention week

An outdoor space was set up for visitors to actively participate in demonstrations of dousing a typical grease fire, which can happen in the kitchen, around a BBQ or in a garage. Willing participants donned protective fire gear and were guided by the firefighters in operating a general purpose 10 lb. ABC, dry chemical fire extinguisher to successfully extinguish the fire.

Capt. Knapp summed up the 4 simple steps that everyone should follow when using the extinguisher, with the acronym PASS which stands for:

“P”- pull the pin

“A”-aim, aim the nozzle at the base of the fire from 2-3 ft away (assuming that you can safely stand that close to the fire, if not leave it for the fire fighters)

“S”- squeeze the trigger

“S”- sweep from side to side until the fire is out

Knapp says parents can make their older teenage children aware of how to safely operate extinguishers in their home. He added that any extinguisher smaller than 10 lb. may not do the job. He was insistent that every household should have a 10 lb. ABC extinguisher in the kitchen and one for every location in the home where fire is present i.e., near woodstoves, pellet stoves, and fireplaces.

Knapp pointed out some other simple but important prevention measures that can be taken in and around the home. Gas and propane cylinders should always be stored outside of the house. Batteries in smoke detectors should be checked and replaced and the entire units should be fully replaced every 10 years (some units require earlier replacement).

Capt. Knapp is going on 20 years as a volunteer fire fighter. He resides in Bradshaw in Bedford district and says, “I can almost throw a rock from my house and hit Bradshaw’s Station #1 fire hall.”

When he is at home, he is usually the first firefighter to arrive at the station in response to an emergency call. Asked if he ever requires a break due to the number of hours he puts in due to his close proximity to the station, Knapp said, “The only time I won’t respond to a call is if I’m too sick or too tired to go.” He added, “If you’re not going to be able to function properly at the scene you’re endangering the lives of all the rest of the guys going.“

Knapp reminded me of a few simple but important facts to remember to decrease the amount of calls fire fighters receive.

“Don’t be tossing lit cigarettes out of your car window“. Knapp explained, “If a bush fire results and the guilty culprit has been seen, they can be charged for the call and it’s pretty expensive - $350 per hour per vehicle and $25 per hour for each fire fighter that responds.”

Regardless of the expense, no one would want to be responsible for starting a fire that could endanger people’s properties or lives, because of a split-second, careless action.

South Frontenac home owners can legally burn untreated wood and paper on their property only after purchasing a burn permit. Similar expenses could be incurred if an out of control situation arises and the party involved did not purchase a burn permit.

Fire vehicle access into driveways and small lanes, especially into cottages is another issue that firefighters are aiming to make the public aware of.

Knapp explained, “We require for our bigger trucks a 15ft wide by 15ft high opening for the vehicles to get through. The lane or driveway has be able to carry a load of 2000lbs per square inch in order to carry the weight of our trucks. .. If you’re driving your half ton truck down your lane or driveway and it’s leaving ruts, our trucks will not make it in.”

Knapp cited a recent call that exemplified this issue. “We had a cottage fire last month up at Maple Grove Estates during a lightning storm and I was the first to respond to that call, but when I got there I could not get the pumper truck into the gentleman’s driveway.”

Fire is a fast acting phenomenon that is always best to prevent before it starts. In case it does start, awareness and having in place the right tools will safe lives and property.

Fire is something that should not be taken lightly. The South Frontenac volunteer firefighters at Station 2 in Burridge spent Saturday doing their utmost to drive that point home.

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