Hail to the Heroes During National Fire Prevention Week

This week, Oct. 9th to the 15th, we celebrate the 100th anniversary of National Fire Prevention Week. This is a timely moment to remind everyone how important it is to take simple precautions that are key to preventing a fire. While it might be impossible to prevent all fires, many are preventable by following basic, safety-related rules that apply to fire and that the profession has formulated during the past 100 years.

Beyond the tips I will share, it’s important to remember that fire, whether at home or in your business, doesn’t only happen to someone else. It can happen to you. It might be surprising, but many fires and the loss of lives are avoidable by following a few elementary rules.

These include:

  • Install smoke alarms on every level of your home, inside the bedroom and outside sleeping areas.
  • Test smoke alarms every month. If they’re not working, change the batteries. Change batteries automatically during our biannual time change, when we adjust our clocks.
  • Talk with family members about a fire escape plan and practice the plan twice a year. This is particularly true if you have physical or age-related issues that might hinder an exit from your home.
  • If a fire occurs in your home, get out, stay out and call for help. Never go back inside for anything or anyone.
  • For more fire-prevention tips, I urge readers to visit https://www.redcross.org/get-help/how-to-prepare-for-emergencies/types-of-emergencies/fire.html. In addition, the Red Cross site offers a broad range of additional fire safety tips, including Home Fire Safety Checklists and Fact Sheets.

While it is essential that we remind everyone of the importance of fire prevention this week, it is also appropriate to praise a particular group of heroes. 

I’m referring to our firefighters, our local heroes, whether they are full-time or those exemplary volunteers in many of our towns. They are the first to arrive in any fire-related situation and the last to leave, risking their lives and health to keep us safe.

Indeed, because of the unusual risks they face, some health issues that arise become apparent only after years of service. Governor Murphy recently signed into law a proposal I authored Senate Bill No. 2743, which mandates periodic cancer screenings for professional firefighters not enrolled in the State Health Benefits Plan. The law eliminates out-of-pocket expenses to firefighters and pay the provider directly, removing any reimbursement costs to firefighters

 Prevention and early detection are the best defenses against a cancer diagnosis. Therefore, we must ensure that our firefighters, who are already susceptible to this disease, receive regular cancer screenings. Firefighters risk their lives and health to protect and save the lives of residents throughout the state. While we can never fully repay this sacrifice, this bill would provide additional protection to individuals in this profession.

When you follow fire safety tips and show appreciation for our firefighters, it contributes to a better community for all.

That’s my take, what’s yours?