Fire Prevention: Look. Listen. Learn.

Sparky Mascot Firefighter

fire prevention: look. listen. learn.

Aaron Pylinski | Community Writer
Those familiar with Chicago may have heard about the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Cult history tells us that Ms. O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern in their barn, and thus started the conflagration.

Regardless of how the incident began, a substantial portion of the city was consumed in flames as tens of thousands of buildings and over 2,000 acres of land were torched over three days. The fire killed close to 250 people and left over 100,000 Chicagoans homeless. Moreover, all the best beer companies in Chicago had to move to Milwaukee and thus created "The Beer Capital of the World" by proxy. But, I digress. Ultimately, the Great Chicago Fire provided a purpose for starting National Fire Prevention Week in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge.

Fire Prevention Week is observed every October in the U.S. and Canada (and also here in lwakuni) during the week of the 9th, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. We are observing Fire Prevention Week here October 7-13.

This year's theme for Fire Prevention Week focuses on educating the public on three essential processes in lowering the chances of starting a fire.

Look around and identify potential fire hazards and identify ways to take care of them.

Listen for smoke alarms. When an alarm goes off, there is only a matter of minutes to escape safely.

Learn the best ways out of every room whether by the door or a window.

As with any good plan, especially when chaos like a home fire is concerned, practice makes perfect. You can never go over your home safety plan too many times. If you don't have one, it's high time you got the family together and started.

Safety Tips

Though there are many safety tips available during Fire Safety Week, here are a few that can be helpful for
the community:

Escape Planning is essential to surviving a fire. Here are some tips for a successful escape plan:

  • Have a plan. Draw a map of your home showing the doors and windows and discuss an escape plan with the family.

  • Know at least two ways to escape from each room.

  • Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

  • Have a meeting place at a safe distance away from the house. Maintain accountability of everyone.

  • Practice, practice, practice. Make your escape plan muscle memory.

  • Teach your children to escape in the event you can't help them.


Smoke Alarms at home are an integral part of the fire escape plan. Working smoke alarms are your early warning system. Take care of them, and they'll take care of you. Here are some smoke alarm tips:

  • There should be a smoke alarm outside every sleeping area in your house, on every level of your home, and also in the basement.

  • The bigger the house, the more smoke alarms you'll need.

  • Interconnected smoke alarms provide the best coverage, when one goes off, they all do.

  • Test your smoke alarms at least once a month.

  • Keep smoke alarms at least 10 feet from the stove to avoid false alarms.

  • Place smoke alarms on ceilings or high on the wall.

  • Replace smoke alarms every 10 years.


If an alarm sounds, get out and do not return to the fire. Call 911 or 119 and remember to never go back inside for people or pets. If there's smoke, get low and stay low as you escape.

Don't discount an alarm, always treat them as if there is an emergency.

Half of all home heating fires are reported during December, January, and February.

Heating Safety is paramount. Heating equipment is one of the leading causes of home fire deaths. With winter just around the corner, here are some tips to stay warm and safe this season:

  • Keep anything flammable at least three feet from heating equipment.

  • Children should stay at least three feet away from open fires and space heaters.

  • Never use your oven to heat your home.

  • Clean and inspect heating equipment and chimneys every year.

  • Turn off portable heaters when leaving the room or going to bed.

  • Make sure there is a smoke alarm in the same room and test them once a month.

Fire Safety in mid-rise apartment buildings bring its own set of challenges. It is important to know fire safety features and protocols whether you're in the mid-rise apartments or barracks. Here are some tips to be prepared:

  • Know the location of all exits on your floor and in your building.

  • If there is a fire, pull the fire alarm as you are exiting the building.

  • If there is an alarm, before leaving your apartment or room, feel the door. If it is hot, find another way out, if it is cool, proceed with caution. If you cannot get out, stuff wet towels under the door to prevent smoke from entering your apartment or room and wait for the fire department. Call the fire department and let them know your location. Slightly open an exterior window and signal with a bright cloth.

  • Use the stairs to evacuate. Never use the elevator.

  • Know where your outside meeting place is. Never return to the burning building for pets or people. Always alert safety crews of possible people or pets trapped inside.

"The truth of the matter is, complacency kills."
Samuel Feltner, Assistant Chief of Special Operations, MCAS Iwakuni Fire Department

Cooking Safety is important, cooking fires are the number one cause of home fires and injuries. Here's the best way to stay safe:

  • Always be alert when you are cooking.

  • Don't leave frying, broiling, grilling, or boiling food unattended.

  • Always remain at home while you're cooking. Even if something is simmering, baking, or roasting, don't leave it unattended.

  • Keep anything flammable away from your stovetop.

  • Have a three feet kid safe zone around your stove or oven.

  • Stovetop fires can be covered with a pan lid. In the event of an oven fire, turn off the heat and keep the door closed. When in doubt, get out. Close the door behind you and call 911 or 119 from outside the home.

To reinforce this information, MCCS is working with the MCAS Iwakuni Fire Department by engaging the community during Fire Safety Week. They are planning storytime at the MC Perry and Iwakuni Elementary Schools. The fire department is also visiting the CDC on Thursday, October 11 from 9-11 AM for story time. During this week, there will be smoke alarm and fire inspections in on-station housing and battery changes for alarms in need (free of charge).

For additional information, stop by the Fire Prevention information booth at Crossroads, October 9-12 from 11 AM -1 PM. The week culminates behind the fire department's annual open house on Saturday, October 13 from 10 AM - 3 PM at Fire Station 1 (Bldg. 6119). This open house showcases the fire department's capabilities, has interactive learning, gifts, station tours, and much more.

Practicing the proper fire safety can mean the difference between a close call and complete catastrophe. Though children under five and adults over 65 are at the highest risk for injury or death due to fire, it is everyone's business to mitigate that risk. Don't be a statistic, be smart and take the time to prepare for a fire emergency.