Firefighters gear up for prevention week

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After having to pause for a year due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Rome Fire Department will once again be opening the Central Fire Station for school tours as part of National Fire Prevention Week.

“We’re going to the schools, and the schools are coming here,” said Rome Fire Chief Thomas Iacovissi.

“Everybody will be wearing masks and social distancing as much as possible.”

Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 3 to 9, sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association. The theme for this year’s week is “Learn the sounds of fire safety,” teaching children about the sounds of smoke alarms, what they mean and how to respond.

As part of Fire Prevention Week in the past, the Rome Fire Department has sent firefighters into city schools to teach students about fire safety, and they have welcomed school tours of the Central Fire Station on Black River Boulevard. The department has several lesson plans ready to go for visiting students.

The COVID-19 pandemic nixed those traditions last year. Iacovissi said the traditions will resume in 2021, albeit with precautions in place. He said the school groups coming to the fire station will be in smaller numbers than in the past, to ease social distancing.

“Smoke alarms have played a leading role in reducing fire death rates over the past 40 years, but we still have more work to do in maximizing their effectiveness,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of outreach and advocacy for the National Fire Protection Association.

According to the NFPA, working smoke alarms in homes reduce the risk of dying in a fire by 55%. They said three out of five house fire deaths occur in homes no smoke alarms or smoke alarms that fail to operate.

The most common factors when smoke alarms fail to operate are missing or non-functional power sources, dead or disconnected batteries, and disconnected hardwire alarms.

“When the smoke alarms in your home beep or chirp and you can’t figure out why — or how to make them stop — it can be frustrating. All too often, that frustration leads people to remove the batteries from their alarms or dismantle them altogether,” said Carli.

“These actions place people at serious risk in the event of a home fire.”

Key messages:

When a smoke alarm or carbon monoxide alarm sounds, respond immediately by exiting the home as quickly as possible.

If your alarm begins to chirp, it may mean that the batteries are running low and need to be replaced. If the alarm continues to chirp after the batteries are replaced, or the alarm is more than 10-years-old, it is time to replace the alarm.

Test all smoke and CO alarms monthly. Press the test button to make sure the alarm is working.

If there is someone in your household who is deaf or hard of hearing, install bed shaker and strobe light alarms that will alert that person to fire.

Know the difference between the sound of a smoke alarm and a carbon monoxide alarm — three beeps for smoke alarms; four beeps for carbon monoxide alarms.

More information on Fire Prevention Week, including resources, can be found at the website www.FPW.org.

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