Alexander City Fire Department ACFD

National Fire Prevention Week is Sunday through Oct. 12 and during this time the Alexander City Fire Department puts a lot of its focus on educating children.

National Fire Prevention Week starts Sunday and the Alexander City Fire Department is trying to make children and the community aware of safety tips.

National Fire Prevention Week started in 1922 by the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) and was made a national observance by President Calvin Coolidge in 1925. The week is held around Oct. 9 in remembrance of the Great Chicago Fire, which began Oct. 8, 1871, according to the NFPA.

The Alexander City Fire Department performs a puppet show about fire safety at local preschools and daycares during the week. The ACFD also brings Sparky the Fire Dog, the mascot of the NFPA, to the schools.

“In fire prevention week we really focus on the kids in the area,” ACFD chief Reese McAlister said. 

The program talks about first aid for burns, practicing fire drills and the dangers of playing with matches and lighters. The fire department has visited preschools for more than 25 years, according to McAlister. 

“A lot of times we’re not out doing the education part we’re doing the (safety) inspections in the community with commercial buildings,” McAlister said. “I hope their family tells them about fire safety but if they don’t we want to make sure they hear from somebody.”

The fire department is going to 10 preschools and daycares this month. McAlister said the department wants to take the presentation to as many daycares as possible. Any preschool administration interested can contact the ACFD at 256-329-6780.

The No. 1 type of fires the ACFD responds to are kitchen or grease fires, according to McAlister. He said those cooking need to pay attention to their stoves and make sure they have a working smoke detector.

“Kitchen fires are the biggest in our area and most in our area, so make sure you always have a plan,” McAlister said. “Have a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Also always be there when you’re cooking.”

McAlister advises keep flammables, such as paper towels, away from stovetops and don’t place mail or other items on it.

“In the kitchen too we’ve seen in the past cooking with grease is very dangerous anyway but leaving flammable stuff close to the stove or close to the eyes, people don’t think about that much,” McAlister said.

According to the NFPA, people who are tired or have consumed alcohol should not use the oven or stovetop. If simmering, baking or roasting food, people should remain in the residence and use a timer while it’s cooking.

If a small cooking fire starts on the stove, slide a lid over the pan and turn off the burner. Leave the pan covered until it is cooled, according to the NFPA.

If an oven fire starts, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. 

If a small fire starts in the kitchen, people should then leave the residence, close the door and call 911, according to the NFPA.

Those grilling should ensure their grills are in a stable place.

“This time of year everybody likes to watch football outside and cooking on the grills and stuff,” McAlister said. “Make sure you’ve got 10-foot clearance above it. You don’t want kids and dogs playing around them. You don’t think about it but they could knock it over.”

If people take ashes out of the grills, they should be in a container before being disposed of.

Other fire safety tips include residents having two points of entry and exits and keeping their doors closed, according to ACFD Lt. Jeremy Spears. 

Residents should leave areas around space heaters clear, and cardboard boxes should not be near gas heaters according to Spears.

For more information on fire prevention and safety tips, visit www.nfpa.org/Public-Education/Staying-safe/Preparedness/Fire-Prevention-Week/Safety-Tip-Sheets.