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Firefighters get the word out on Fire Prevention Week

October 02, 1999|By MARLO BARNHART

The piercing wail of fire sirens will sound in unison throughout Washington County on Wednesday, signaling a cooperative effort to eliminate fire deaths.

All fire and rescue companies in Washington County will activate their house sirens to commemorate Fire Prevention Week at 7 p.m. When those sirens sound, families are urged to practice home fire drills, making sure each family member knows what to do and where to go in case of a fire.

The Washington County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association is encouraging the community to participate, said Doug DeHaven of the Volunteer Fire Company of Halfway.

"The Great Escape" theme is a national campaign, stressing the idea of decreasing fire injuries and deaths by advance planning within families, DeHaven said.

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More importantly, fire safety should be uppermost in the minds of residents throughout the year - not just on one day or during this week, fire officials say.

The Hagerstown Fire Department is continuing its efforts to place smoke detectors in every home as part of a year-round approach to fire safety.

Firefighters visited 4,000 homes this summer, and found 88 percent had working smoke detectors, said Mike Weller, health educator with the fire department.

"In 12 percent, we took action by replacing dead batteries, adding additional detectors or replacing aging detectors," Weller said.

Smoke detectors should be replaced every 10 years, Weller said.

Weller said he could count on one hand the number of homes that had no smoke detectors.

"And they have them now," he said.

Employees of Lowe's of Hagerstown helped with the survey, an effort that paid off in $10,000 in prize money to the local store from a national competition. The money will go to the Hagerstown Fire Department for public fire education, Weller said.

Firefighters also are continuing to emphasize safe cooking, again with the help of Lowe's of Hagerstown.

"They helped us with our signs and posters warning people that cooking fires are the number one cause of fires in Hagerstown," Weller said.

Additionally, DeHaven said, a Great Escape contest is being conducted throughout Washington County.

Entry forms are available in schools and fire stations. The deadline to be eligible for $50 savings bond prizes is Oct. 20.

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