Fire prevention focus of Mid-Ohio Valley events

Photo by Jess Mancini From left Adam Delbaugh, Fire Chief Jason Matthews and Jeremiah Moyers of the Parkersburg Fire Department pose with a banner to be installed around town for the commemoration of National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 8-14.

PARKERSBURG — The city of Parkersburg will observe National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 8-14.

The department over the next three weeks will visit each elementary school in the city and present children with a packet of information that includes family activities designed to promote safety with the theme “Every Second Counts, Plan Two Ways Out,” Fire Chief Jason Matthews said.

Today’s commemoration will include the annual Fire Prevention Parade at 7 p.m. from the I-77 Welcome Center in Williamstown to the Washington County Fairgrounds. Line up begins at 6 p.m. at the Welcome Center.

Departments from Wood and Washington counties will participate, he said. The parade will cross the Williamstown Bridge into Marietta.

This is the 10th year of the parade, which kicks off Fire Prevention Week.

Fire Prevention Week, sponsored by the National Fire Prevention Association, commemorates the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 8-9, 1871, when more than 250 people were killed. The fire started a reformation around the country and the promulgation of fire safety codes.

President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed the first National Fire Prevention Week in 1925,

Among the lessons for children and their families is to have a working smoke detector and escape plans that have at least two ways out, Matthews said. Parents and their children should recognize the sound of the smoke alarm and immediately get out of the house and assemble at a pre-determined location, he said.

“And practice that two times a year with the family,” Matthews said.

The observance will include hanging banners around the city at the Traffic Circle, Division and Route 95, East and Camden and Seventh and Park.

The department and about 50 volunteers will roam the city of Parkersburg 10 a.m.-noon and 1-3 p.m. Oct. 14 looking for eligible residents who qualify for a free smoke alarm, Matthews said. Installation of the alarms also is free, he said.

The West Virginia Fire Marshal also is observing the annual Fire Prevention Week. In keeping with the theme of the week, seconds can mean the difference between safely escaping or lives ending in tragedy, Fire Marshal Ken Tyree said.

The office of the fire marshal recommends people:

* Draw a map of home with all members of the household. Mark two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.

* Practice a home fire drill twice a year, one at night and one during the day with everyone and using different ways out.

* Teach children how to escape on their own.

* Make sure the house number is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

* Close doors when leaving to slow the spread of smoke, heat and fire.

* Once outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.

“Fires these days spread faster than in times past; you and your loved ones may have less than two minutes from the start of the fire to escape your home safely,” he said. “That is why it is vital to make escape plans and to practice them with your family.”