Owens Volunteer Fire Department Teaches Fire Safety


Members of the Owens VFD Saturday afternoon in front of the department’s new “super tanker”. (Photo by Al Whitaker, WHNT News 19)

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ATHENS, Ala. (WHNT) - This is National Fire Prevention Week and firefighters all over are working to educate the public on how to prevent fires, and how to survive a fire.

The Kid's Safety House, owned and operated by the Limestone County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments, is a fun way to teach a most serious lesson. It's a mobile classroom designed to demonstrate for children and their parents how to survive a fire.  

"You can sit down at the table with your family and talk about things all calm, cool and collected. But at 2 o'clock in the morning, it's kinda hard to keep all your thoughts together," says Derrick Gatlin, President of the Limestone County Association of Volunteer Fire Departments. He adds, "But you know having a plan in your home, whether it be a fire plan, a tornado drill plan is very important to do."

The theme for this year's fire prevention week is have a second way out. Identify two possible exits in case fire or some other obstacle prevents you from using one of the exits.

Firefighters say most people who die in house fires don't burn to death, they die of smoke inhalation before the blaze gets to them. So if you wake up in the middle of the night to a smoke filled home, the best thing to do is crawl to safety rather than jump up and run.

In the United States, a house fire is reported pn average every 85 seconds. Most fires begin in the kitchen, around the stove, while someone is cooking. Firefighters urge people to have a plan, designate a place outdoors where you'll meet, never go back into a burning building, and it's best to fall and crawl if you're in a smoke filled room.

"Because when the smoke comes out, it'll start building down to the floor, and you don't want to get all clogged up because you'll have trouble breathing," says 10-year old Jake Toome who plans to become a third generation firefighter.

Firefighters strongly suggest having a fire drill in your home with your children. You can make it a fun exercise. Just stress to them not to panic, but to get out of the house and wait at a pre-designated place. Make certain your home has working smoke detectors. As one of our own investigations has shown, and the Alabama State Fire Marshall agrees, photo-electric smoke alarms are the way to go. And as cooler weather approaches, make certain any space heaters are at least three feet away from other furnishings. 

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