The Newberry Fire Department is working to educate the public on the importance of having a fire safety plan in place. While October 6-12, 2019 is known nationally as Fire Prevention Week, Fire Chief Keith Minick says their department is busy from September to November sharing fire safety messages within the community.

This year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape, Plan and Practice Your Escape,” putting the focus on households having two escape routes set in place for their family in the event of a house fire.

Throughout the month of October, Minick said they will be visiting schools, daycare centers and hosting tours of the Newberry Fire Department in an effort to start the education of fire prevention and community risk reduction at a young age.

“What we hope is the message goes back home with these children and for the parents to participate in developing and practicing a plan of fire escape with their family,” Minick said.

While Minick said they can teach young children to get down low in the fire safety house, what a smoke alarm sounds like and ask if they have working smoke alarms at home, the best teaching moments are at home with parents, grandparents and relatives working and practicing with them to make sure they have a plan in place.

“Show them the smoke alarms, test them to make sure they are working and within the 10-year recommended window of use,” he said.

Over the past year, Minick said stove fires have been a high trend in the community. Because of unattended stoves and other causes of house fires, he said having a fire safety plan is of utmost importance along with having working smoke alarms.

Those needing assistance with smoke alarms can contact the Newberry Fire Department at 803-321-1030. Minick said the Newberry Fire Department has partnered with several organizations to provide free smoke alarms to owner-occupied residences through a grant program.

“We will be more than happy to come out and install those in households that qualify,” he said.

Carbon Monoxide detectors are also being incorporated into the department’s educational messages now, Minick said as many households are using natural gas and they are needed in the home.

“We’ve been fortunate to not have any significant injuries this year and we want to keep it that way by having the message out there of the importance of working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and having a fire safety plan in place with your household,” Minick said.

The goal, Minick said with this year’s fire prevention message was to get families involved with asking their children what they’ve learned after the fire department visits their school.

“Go over that message, ask them what they’ve learned and reinforce those practices,” he said.

If your child is old enough, Minick expresses the importance of teaching them how to dial 9-1-1 along with the information they’ll need to give the operator whether they need the fire department, law enforcement or EMS.

“It’s not just about fire safety, it’s community risk reduction,” he said. “We need to make sure we’re instilling that into our children so that no one gets into a situation and doesn’t know what to do.”

Fire safety materials provided to the Newberry Fire Department by the National Fire Safety Council will be distributed to Newberry County Schools in honor of Fire Prevention Week and include a variety of fire safety information for all ages.

“We can’t thank the community enough for those that sponsor these coloring books and other promotional materials that make this happen in our schools,” Minick said.