“Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” is the message the Burlington Fire Department is teaching their citizens this month in support of the National Fire Protection Association’s Fire Prevention Week 2018.

Since 1925, NFPA has been providing theme based education for the public of all ages in effort to reduce the number of fire-related injuries and deaths our nation sees each year.

This year’s observance is this week, and the Burlington Fire Department will be at the forefront focusing on the theme “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.” The lesson taught is, look for places a fire may start, listen for the sounds of smoke alarms, and learn two ways out of each room. The theme also teaches, be aware, fire can happen anywhere.

A longtime proponent of Fire Prevention Week, the Burlington Fire Department recognizes a vital need for fire safety through education. With more than 3000 fire-related deaths annually in the U.S., and 28 fire-related deaths in Iowa this year alone, Burlington Fire Department is driven to implement fire prevention activities, and it begins with our youth.

Every year, in support of Fire Prevention Week, Burlington Fire Department holds a fire safety poster contest that is targeted towards the Burlington area elementary schools. The program encourages students to create a poster that reflects their perception of the fire prevention theme for the year. The contest, which is judged by an impartial third party, yields trophies and ribbons for first, second, and third place winners, and a new bicycle for the overall grand prize winner.

I have enjoyed the endless smiles on the kid’s faces as they receive their prizes. More importantly, I see the pride the kids took in their work. The grand prize winner’s poster is showcased at Central Fire Station, which is a great honor for the kids.

Part of this year’s theme places emphasizes on learning two ways out of a room in the event of a fire. While specific to this year’s theme, it’s not a new lesson for any Burlington student. During Fire Prevention Week, fire drills are conducted at all the schools and incorporates not only students of all ages, but teachers and staff as well.

Overseen by Fire Marshal Mark Crooks, the drills are strategically planned to block usual exits, forcing students to know their second way out, and random students are taken from the exiting groups with the goal of making sure teachers are accounting for all of their students.

The importance of a working smoke alarm in your home cannot be stressed enough. NFPA reports that three of every five home fire deaths resulted from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms. Within the 2018 Fire Prevention Week theme, smoke alarms are yet another concern that both NFPA and the Burlington Fire Department spotlight.

Part of that support comes in the form of a free smoke alarm program. The Burlington Fire Department, along with a generous donation from the Burlington Elks Club, has been able to provide, free of cost, smoke alarms for the citizens. Homeowners just need to call the station and schedule an appointment attheir convenience. A firefighter will professionally install alarms and provide a home safety check. It is piece of mind made simple.

The mission of the Burlington Fire Department is “To provide for the fire and life safety needs of the community in the most professional, courteous and efficient manner possible”, a mission that Burlington Fire is passionate about. The fire department is not only dedicated to the community that they serve, but are grateful for the immeasurable amount of support from the community. There are few words that can express the deepest appreciation and thanks for the kindness and consideration the public has shown the department over the years. When a “thank you” is simply not enough for a department to show its gratitude, they turn to actions, and for the citizens of Burlington, that means providing a professional, courteous, and efficient service that can be relied on always.

Jared Siefken, firefighter with the Burlington Fire Department