As part of this year’s Fire Prevention Week activities Norfolk Fire Station #2 Port Dover intends to ‘hit the streets’ with their message about smoke alarms. Station Chief Gary Spragg and two local trained ‘educators’, Fred Pankhurst and John Wilson, will head up two-firefighter teams to knock on doors.
The teams will be out on Saturday, October 26 in the afternoon from 1 to 3 p.m. Random areas across town will be chosen for the visits.
“We will be distributing pamphlets titled ‘The Smoke Alarm Story’ and ‘Home Smoke Alarms’ as well as answer questions people have, Station Chief Spragg explained to The Maple Leaf this week.
Fire educator Fred Pankhurst said the teams will ask if the homeowner would like them to check their smoke alarms to see if they are working properly. If they give permission all alarms will be checked, if they are not working firefighters will advise the homeowner to acquire new batteries, or replace the fixture … “we will not charge the homeowner even though the law states there must be a working smoke alarm on every floor of a dwelling”.
Fire educator John Wilson noted if a non-working smoke alarm only needs new batteries the firefighters team may provide and install them at no charge. Station Chief Spragg commented if a home has no smoke alarms the visiting team will be willing to give free alarms, compliments of Norfolk County.
“We want to educate the public on fire safety, fire prevention,” the Station Chief said, adding, “but we cannot give every house one”.
Also present in the fire hall for the home visitation set-up was Firefighter Josh Benvenuti. He has been a Port Dover firefighter for two years, saying he joined as a way to challenge himself and “because I wanted to do something to help people and give something back to the community”. He grew up in Port Dover.
Local firefighters will visit both schools in Port Dover in late November. “We will go into every classroom,” the two fire station educators stated. They have prepared age-related material for the youthful listeners.
They go into a classroom wearing street clothes but put on their firefighting gear in front to the class. Both men explained that helps gain the children’s confidence that in case of a fire in their home, the children know that the firefighter in heavy clothing is the same man they saw at school and he is at the fire to help them.
Throughout discussions at the fire hall as the October 26 street visits were being planned, they spoke of common fire safety practices that many people do not follow. Ninety percent of home fires start in the kitchen with similar. causes.
The second cause of fires comes from furnaces not properly maintained.
As well, wood-burning fireplaces are a major source of fires with firefighters getting calls every winter to extinguish chimney fires.
Photo: Pictured at Port Dover fire station are firefighters (left to right) Fred Pankhurst, Josh Benvenuti with 2-year-old Mercey, John Wilson, Station Chief Gary Spragg.