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Your fire department
& Fire Prevention Week

Seeley Lake Volunteer Firefighters test one of the dry-hydrants installed this summer. The hydrants supply approximately 300 gallons of water per minute and will save valuable time when firefighters need to transport water in areas where there are no water-district hydrants.

by Patricia Swan Smith
For the Pathfinder
September 3, 1998

Fire Prevention week kicks off October 4th and runs through the 10th. This year's theme is "Fire Drills: The Great Escape!" to life.

"We know from our 1997 Home Escape survey that people don't take escape planning seriously. Only 16% of respondents had a plan and practiced it. With your help, we can save lives by inspiring more people to become 'Great Escapers!'" says Meredith Appy, vice president for Public Education for the National Fire Protection Association.

The Seeley Lake Volunteer Department would also like to stress the importance of cleaning your chimney and having working smoke detectors in your home.

"We have equipment available at the fire station and anyone can check the brushes out to clean their chimneys," Fire Chief Jim White said. "Most chimney fires start when people are asleep and can be deadly. The best ways to prevent these types of disasters is to have properly installed stoves, clean chimneys and working smoke detectors."

According to White, the detectors should be checked and tested at least once a month.

"We recommend you have one in every room on each level of your home, which includes the basement and crawl space. For fire prevention, your stove and chimney should be check and cleaned once a month. To get the brushes, just stop by during our office hours between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m., Monday through Friday."

Even though smoke detectors have been around since the 1970s, there are homes without them as well as homes that have detectors that don't work.

According to the National Fire Protection Association:

*Although 13 of ever 14 homes have at least one smoke detector, almost half of home fires and three and three-fifths of fire deaths occur in the share of homes with no detectors. Thousands of people still die each year in home fires where smoke detectors aren't present.

*In addition, there are now more homes with smoke detectors that don't work than homes without detectors at all. Approximately one-third of homes with smoke detectors that experience fires have smoke detectors that aren't working, and hundreds of people die each year in these fires.

*Most people who die in home fires are not in the room where the fire starts; working smoke detectors alert people to fire and give them time to escape in a situation where minutes can mean the difference between life and death.

*Having an operating smoke detector cuts your chance of dying nearly in half.

*Make sure you buy only those detectors that bear the mark of an independent testing laboratory. All tested and labeled smoke detectors offer adequate protection if they are properly installed and maintained.

Besides promoting fire safety, the volunteer fire department is also working on adding additional water supplies for firefighting. The volunteers have helped install three dry-hydrants in the Seeley area which allow the department to get water year round in areas that do not have fire hydrants.

For example, firefighters battling a fire near the airport area would have to transport water from the high school. Now there is a hydrant on South Canyon, which will save valuable time.

If you have a water supply on your property, and would be interested in installing a dry-hydrant, contact the Seeley Fire Department. The cost of a hydrant runs between $500 and $1,500. Often, the department can get both labor and backhoe work donated for installation.

Another goal of the volunteer department this fall is to recruit more members for the department.

"We have updated the equipment and vehicles, and we are in good shape in those respects, but without enough trained volunteers, all the equipment and vehicles in the world will not save lives or property," Chief White said. "We need a few more committed volunteers who will attend training once a month and respond to calls. We have some excellent people on the department, but we are short handed, and we would like to get volunteers before a disaster happens that could have been prevented by having enough firefighters."

For more information about joining the department, call Jim White at 677-2400.

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