Cody Fire Department Hosts Open House For Fire Prevention Week
Written by Mac Watson on October 14, 2023
The Cody Volunteer Fire Department held an open house to cap off Fire Prevention Week on Saturday. Many people, including scores of children, checked out the equipment, talked with firefighters, and were instructed about to keep residents safe when it comes to cooking in the home.
The theme of this year’s week was “Cooking Safety starts with YOU” as two out of every five home-fires begin in the kitchen, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Sam Wilde, Fire Marshal for the Cody Fire Department, and who was interviewed on “Mac In The Morning” on KODI, said that awareness is key. “People who are cooking can walk away from the kitchen, or get distracted, and that’s the main cause of fires in the home.”
At noon, a demonstration was held that emphasized why new or existing homes should have a fire suppression system installed. A flatbed trailer was towed behind the fire station with two mock-up rooms that included carpeting, easy chairs, a computer monitor, and drapes.
The first room didn’t have a sprinkler system in place. A countdown started. When the number “1” was reached, a small flame was ignited by an electrical starter. At first, anxious kids and parents craned their necks to see how the fire would burn. Within seconds, flames licked the interior of the model room. After a minute, the room was entirely engulfed in flames that went high into the air and thick, dark smoke poured out and rose into the blue sky.
Firefighters, who were standing at the ready with gear on and a fire hose, jumped into action, quickly dousing the flames.
Then the second room, equipped with a sprinkler system, was set on fire. Again, a countdown led to a small flame being ignited in the middle of the room. But this time, as smoke reached the smoke detectors that started loudly chirping, the fire suppression system flooded the interior of the room, quickly extinguishing all the flames. It was over in a matter of seconds and almost anti-climatic compared to the inferno of the first room.
But that was the point of the exhibition.
Mark Norford, from the State of Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety, who led the demonstrations, says people can see in real time how a fire can consume someone’s home in a matter of minutes. “[The fire suppression event] is an awareness campaign. A lot of people aren’t even aware that you can put sprinklers in your residential structure or your home.”
Norford goes on the explain that the reason the state is putting on these kinds of demonstrations is “to have people start asking for [sprinklers] when they build a house or even if they go to remodel their existing home.”
But people may be hesitant to have a sprinkler system installed in their home because of the cost. Norford understands people’s concerns but adds, “With the money you’re willing to spend to build a new house, [a fire suppression system] isn’t that much depending on where you’re at.”
As the crowd disperses, Norford punctuates his message. “You can see,” as he points toward the burned out demonstration rooms as the last wisps of smoke linger and then float into the crisp, fall air, “it’s very clear the difference in the safety aspects between what can happen and the time [a sprinkler system] can give you to exit your home and protect your property.”
Homeowners are getting the message. The number of sprinkler systems installed in new homes or pre-existing dwellings has risen, accord to Norford. “Nationwide, sprinklers [being installed in new and current homes] are on the increase. [The State of Wyoming Department of Fire Prevention] and the National Fire Sprinkler Association and fire departments all across the country, are pushing this awareness to make people just know that they can have these in their homes.”
Since 1922, the NFPA has sponsored the public observance of Fire Prevention Week. In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed Fire Prevention Week a national observance, making it the longest-running public health observance in our country. During Fire Prevention Week, children, adults, and teachers learn how to stay safe in case of a fire. Firefighters provide lifesaving public education in an effort to drastically decrease casualties caused by fires.
Fire Prevention Week is observed each year during the week of October 9th in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire, which began on October 8, 1871, and caused devastating damage. This horrific conflagration killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres of land.