On October 8th, 1871, the Great Chicago Fire started, taking the lives of more than 250 people, leaving 100,000 homeless, and destroying more than 17,400 structures and more than 2,000 acres. To commemorate the tragic fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America started Fire Prevention Week. Fire is still very much a part of our lives with more than a million fires reported in 2014 in the U.S. alone!
As part of this year's Fire Prevention Week activities, HWMO and CERT teamed up to hold a fire extinguisher workshop for the public at the Waikoloa Stables on October 17th. Waikoloa CERT's Mark Gordon led a group of about a dozen residents through the basics of fire extinguisher use and safety. HWMO's Pablo Beimler chimed in about what residents could do to take action in the community, including joining Waikoloa's Firewise Committee and reviewing the Ready, Set, Go! Wildland Fire Action Guide. HFD firefighters from the local Waikoloa station assisted in the training. Battalion Chief Farias gave great tips on fire extinguisher use and helped answer questions specific to HFD response. The other firefighters on hand also gave assistance when it came time for workshop attendees to practice their firefighting skills. Each attendee had a chance to use a fire extinguisher with guidance from HFD and a partner that grabbed a hold of them to ensure they could fight the fire safely.
Mahalo to Waikoloa CERT for helping coordinate the event and to HFD for their assistance and community support.
Key takeaways from the training:
- Make sure to service your extinguishers annually at a certified vendor. Business owners are usually required to service them monthly.
- Keep fire extinguishers at your exits. Leaving it under the kitchen sink, for example, could pose a safety hazard, especially if most home fires occur in the kitchen.
- The size of the extinguisher you want to have on hand depends largely on what size you can actually physically handle.
- Having a partner hold onto you (by the belt, for example) as you extinguish a fire is a good safety precaution to ensure you don't accidentally trip into the fire or as you're backing away. Make sure the person with the extinguisher has their eyes on the extinguished area at all times, including when backing away. The partner should help look around for any tripping hazards as you back away.
- PASS when you extinguish a fire. Pull the pin, aim, squeeze, and sweep.
- Taking an athletic stance as you put out the fire will ensure you are ready to make a sudden move should things get out of hand.
- Call 911 before extinguishing the fire. Even after you think you've put it out, firefighters can help check if the fire didn't' make its way into unseen areas like behind your walls.