Fire prevention week looks different from normal for the second year in a row because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Normally Ladysmith Fire Rescue goes to schools to teach about fire safety, but this year it is unable to, according to Fire Chief Chris Geiger. He said schools are being cautious about who they let in for presentations because of the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province.
“It’s tough because we like to do the face-to-face stuff,” he said.
The department will hang a banner downtown to promote this year’s theme “learn the sounds of safety.” Geiger said the department is also working with the Town of Ladysmith on social media messaging for the week.
The theme this year focuses on maintaining, testing and understanding smoke alarms.
“Working smoke alarms save lives,” Geiger said. “Make sure your smoke alarms are working. Every month, test them.”
Though fire alarm manufacturers suggest changing batteries once a year, Geiger said throughout B.C. the guideline is to change them in the fall and spring with the time changes.
Geiger said Ladysmith Fire Rescues often shows up to call and is told by homeowners that the smoke alarm batteries were just changed. “We’ll pull the detector and the batteries are backwards, so when you change the batteries, test it to make sure it works,” he said.
When it is time to change batteries and test the smoke alarm, it is also a good time to teach children about fire prevention.
Geiger said it is also good to go over fire escape plans and ensure everyone in the home knows the plan in case of a fire.
A lot of fires in the home happen while cooking — Geiger said it is important to have a fire extinguisher near the kitchen. It is also important to know how to use it if there is an emergency. There are many resources online to help learn and prepare and the department has a digital training prop, he said
“We use fire as a tool but it has the potential to get away on us and cause problems for us, so now is the time to think about it.”
Last year the fire department stopped responding to medical aid calls due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but has since started to again, Geiger said. Now the pandemic mostly affects the amount of personal protective equipment used by firefighters.