By Starrla Cray
DELANO, MN This week, firefighters across the nation are sharing a lifesaving message, and the departments in Delano, Montrose, and Loretto are no exception.
“This is a great time each year to get the word out about fire/life safety,” Delano Fire Chief Bob Van Lith noted. “This is something we all think, ‘it’s not going to happen to me.’”
Unfortunately, fires are not uncommon.
In Loretto, 29 of this year’s 148 calls have been fire related.
The Loretto Fire Department will have an open house Saturday, Oct. 13 from 4 to 8 p.m. There will be food, prizes, a clown, and inflatables for children.
The Montrose Fire Department has already responded to 21 fire calls in 2012.
“That’s pretty high,” Montrose firefighter Matt Menard said.
The total number of all emergency calls in Montrose is also increasing.
“We’re at a record pace 190,” Menard said. “Last year we had 186 total.”
Most of the calls (128) have been for medical emergencies. Menard said the higher numbers could be due to growth in the community.
Although Montrose may have an increased demand for fire protection, the department is well-equipped to handle the need.
“We just took on five new guys in September,” Menard said.
New members include Cory Dewitte, Matt Palm, Ralph Brown, Mitch Weege, and Thomas Kortisses.
During National Fire Prevention Week, which starts today and goes through Friday, Oct. 12, many local firefighters are inviting students to tour their stations.
In Montrose, firefighters will be dressing up in their gear, so children know not to be afraid if a firefighter comes to their house.
“Fire prevention is important for educating adults and children on keeping safe and understanding the seriousness of what to do in case of a fire,” Loretto Fire Chief Jeff Leuer noted.
This year’s national theme, “Have two ways out,” focuses on the importance of a second escape route, in case the first one is blocked by smoke or flames.
Families should also plan a safe place to meet outside.
“Once the fire department arrives, it gets kind of chaotic,” Menard said. “We want to make sure parents don’t think their children are still in the house.”
According to a National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) survey, only one-third of Americans have developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
To learn more, go to www.nfpa.org.