During this year's Fire Prevention Week, state and national fire agencies along with Rolla's fire department are reminding people of the importance of having multiple escape routes in the event of a fire.
Fire Prevention Week 2012 runs from Oct. 7-13 and this year's theme is "Have 2 Ways Out."
"For every home and every place you work, residential or commercial, have at least two ways out in case the first way becomes blocked," said Ron Smith, training officer with the City of Rolla Fire and Rescue.
Smith said people should practice not only their main way to escape a fire but practice alternate ways, such as a bedroom window or a back door. When people don't practice their other escape routes, Smith said when a fire occurs, in people's minds, they believe they are "automatically trapped."
Smith recalled a fire in the early 1990s at a two-story apartment complex in Rolla in which candles started a fire in the living room of one of the apartments.
The fire blocked the stairwell for occupants on the second floor and resulted in the death of a young lady and two small children, Smith remembered.
"A lot of things went wrong," he said. "There were many aspects, not just the exit being blocked, so it's imperative people practice their escape and identify those exits before they become blocked."
Smith recommended occupants in upstairs apartments or residences consider chain stairwells as an alternative to be used for escape.
To observe Fire Prevention Week, firefighters with Rolla Fire and Rescue will visit Mark Twain Elementary School Tuesday, Oct. 9, from 8:30 to 2:30 p.m. and Truman Elementary School Friday, Oct. 12, at the same time. Rain dates are set for Oct. 15 for Truman Elementary and Oct. 18 at Mark Twain School.
At the schools, Smith said firefighters will be doing rappelling exercises, holding fire prevention classes and allowing children to spray fire hoses.
Like in past years, Rolla Fire and Rescue will hold an open house on the last day of Fire Prevention Week. This year's event will take place Saturday, Oct. 13, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the fire headquarters on 10th Street near Greentree Road. There will be car extrication demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., rappelling and station tours.
The Fire Pup also will pass out pink fire department helmets to promote breast cancer awareness and new this year, with a donation to the Phelps County Regional Medical Center Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, people may take a ride up in the department's ladder truck. There also will be free popcorn, snow cones and T-shirt giveaways.
For more information about the open house, call Rolla Fire and Rescue at 573-364-3989.
Page 2 of 2 - The Rolla Rural Fire Protection District also will hold an open house from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1575 East Lions Club Drive.
Fire Prevention Week is recognized annually by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and fire departments and safety agencies across the country.
For more than 85 years, fire departments have observed Fire Prevention Week, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record.
According to the NFPA, in 2010 there were an estimated 369,500 reported home structure fires across the U.S., resulting in 2,640 civilian deaths. An NFPA survey also revealed that only 23 percent of American households have actually developed and practiced a fire evacuation plan.
Missouri State Fire Marshal Randy Cole said that in addition to a plan, having a working smoke detector is essential to ensuring families are alerted in case of a fire.
For more information on fire safety, visit www.firepreventionweek.org.