Chattanooga firefighters gathered at the Fireman's Fountain on Georgia Avenue this morning to officially kick off Fire Prevention Week in Chattanooga. Mayor Andy Berke and Fire Marshal William Matlock led the ceremony, which honored those firefighters who have passed away over the past year. To help mark the occasion, members of the Alhambra Shrine Highlanders Pipes and Drums played a rendition of "Amazing Grace" to close out the event.
Matlock said Fire Prevention Week actually lasts all month in Chattanooga.
"Members of our Fire Prevention Bureau, with help from firefighters all over the city, will be teaching fire safety at dozens of schools and other locations throughout the month of October ," said Matlock, In addition to teaching fire safety in elementary schools, Matlock said many students in local schools, from kindergarden to high school, will be participating in a poster contest. The winners will receive gift cards from Walmart, and the overall winner will have his or her poster prominently displayed on a billboard for a month.
Mayor Berke said firefighters have a very important mission, but our citizens need to know how to respond in the event of a fire too. "We've had several fire-related fatalities this year," said Berke, "and one important safety tip is that once you get out of the home that's on fire, you never go back in." Berke is referring to the fatal fire September 17, 2017 at 1218 Judys Lane in Lookout Valley. Charles Vaughn went back into his burning home and did not survive. He was 72.
This year's theme for Fire Prevention Week is: "Every Second Counts...Plan 2 Ways Out!" Matlock said that in the event of a fire, you must get out quickly. "You have less than two minutes to get out safely once a smoke alarm sounds," said Matlock. "Make sure you have two ways out of every room, and practice your escape plan with everyone who lives in your home."
Matlock said Chattanooga has had four fire-related deaths so far this year, and we're just now heading into cold weather. "Most home fire deaths happen when people are asleep, between the hours of 11:00 p.m. and 7:00 a.m." said Matlock. "Make sure you have working smoke alarms on every level of your home, and please practice your escape plan. It could save your life!"