Sumter Fire Department aims to educate folks about fire safety

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Sumter Fire Department Battalion Chief Johnnie Rose said the headquarters station will be packed with students next week, Oct. 8 though Oct. 14, for Fire Prevention Week.

Firefighters will also be visiting schools throughout Sumter County to talk about fire prevention and fire safety, which will be recognized all month.

The motto this year is "two ways out," Rose said.

Firefighters are telling students that their families need to plan at least two emergency exits from the house, including doors and windows, he said.

Students are also asked to take a safety test when they get home, he said. They are asked to close their eyes and crawl from their bedrooms to the front door within two minutes, Rose said.

If there is a fire in their home, they may need to crawl to safety, and two minutes is the ideal time in which to exit a house that is on fire, he said.

But Fire Prevention Week is not just for children, Rose said.

Homeowners also have to participate, he said. The fire department can only do so much, he said.

On Monday only, families can receive a free order from Domino's Pizza on West Wesmark Boulevard if all of their smoke alarms are working.

Rose said between 5 to 7 p.m. on Monday firefighters will follow the pizza delivery vehicle to Sumter residences at random and check the smoke alarms. If the smoke alarms are not in working order, firefighters can replace batteries or install new smoke alarms, he said. If all smoke alarms are working, the pizza is free, he said.

Smoke alarms save lives, Rose said.

This year, 21 lives in South Carolina were saved by smoke alarms, he said.

Rose encourages city and county residents to visit their nearest fire station to request to have smoke alarms installed in their homes.

And although it does not feel like it, fall is here, so everyone needs to be careful when using central heating systems and space heaters, he said.

If you smell something burning for a few minutes after you turn on your home's heating system you need to call the fire department, Rose said. The burning smell is normal, but if it stays for more than about one minute, nine times out of 10 there is a fire somewhere, he said.

It may be a good idea to have a technician check your heating system before you use it, Rose said.

As always, the fire department's goal is to have zero fire deaths in the county, Rose said. Unfortunately, there have already been five deaths caused by fire this year, he said.

"We don't want any more deaths," Rose said.