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Firefighters mark Fire Prevention Week

Firefighters mark Fire Prevention Week

Oct 13, 2013 - From staff reports

Nearly 300 firefighters answer the call in county

Fremont County's firefighters join their volunteer and professional colleagues nationwide in observing Fire Prevention Week every October. This year's observance concludes this weekend.

Local fire stations across the county hosted open houses during the week as community members got to meet firefighters and learn more about this year's Fire Prevention Week theme, "Prevent Kitchen Fires."

Our annual newspaper salute to Fremont County firefighters begins on page A-10 of today's edition.

Nearly 300 men and women are volunteer firefighters in Fremont County, encompassing both the Riverton and Lander volunteer fire departments and the separate but cooperative Fremont County Fire Protection District, which staffs and equips 14 smaller fire battalions in the county's other municipalities and rural areas.

The Riverton Volunteer Fire Department dates its history to the city's founding in 1906. Today the department has the responsibility of protecting 120 square miles and an estimated 23,000 citizens and their property in the city and an area radius of about 10 miles surrounding Riverton.

Mike Hutchison is the RVFD chief, in the second year of his two-year term.

Lander's city department has similar obligations, responding to calls in the city limits and the immediately surrounding area. Eric Siwik leads LVFD as chief this year.

The two city departments work in conjunction as needed with the Fremont County Fire Protection District units, but the rural battalions have primary responsibility outside the greater Lander and Riverton areas.

District chief is Craig Haslam, and district commissionersare Paul Downey, John Campbell and Ken Metzler.

Through August, Haslam reported that Fremont County Fire Protection District firefighters had been paged 513 times this year, with 77 vehicle fires the single largest category of response. The district also responded to 39 wildland fires and 18 structure fires.

Many fire calls end up being false alarms or "stand downs," when the situation is resolved before firefighters arrive, but departments respond to all calls and monitor them until safety is confirmed.

Fire protection districts are tax-supported entities with an annual tax levy supplying much of their annual operating budgets, but fire districts usually conduct annual fundraisers as well, and sometimes additional funding requests are put before voters for approval of temporary, additional taxes to pay for new equipment or facilities.

All Fremont County firefighters are volunteers, but they receive extensive professional training locally, regionally and nationally.

The county is recognized as a leader in firefighter training statewide. The Wyoming Fire Academy is in Riverton, wich hosts the annual Wyoming Mid-Winter Fire School.

Prevent kitchen fires

Each year National Fire Prevention Week embraces a central theme for purposes of training, prevention and public awareness. This year's theme is "Prevent Kitchen Fires."

National statistics show that cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires and home injuries. The leading cause of fires in the kitchen is unattended cooking.

Fire prevention experts offer this advice on how to prevent kitchen fires or, if they do occur, how to respond safely:

- Be alert. If you are sleepy or have consumed alcohol don't use the stove or stovetop.

- Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling food. If you leave the kitchen for even a short period of time, turn off the stove.

- If you are simmering, baking, roasting, or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking, and use a timer to remind you that you are cooking.

- Keep anything that can catch fire -- oven mitts, wooden utensils, food packaging, towels or curtains -- away from your stovetop.

If you have a cooking fire

- If the fire can't be controlled, get out. When you leave, close the door behind you to help contain the fire.

- Call 911 or the local emergency number after you leave.

- If you try to fight the fire, be sure others are getting out and you have a clear way out.

- Keep a lid nearby when you're cooking to smother small grease fires.

- Smother the fire by sliding the lid over the pan and turn off the stovetop.

- Leave the pan covered until it is completely cooled.

- For an oven fire turn off the heat and keep the door closed.

- A small fire extinguisher is recommended for the kitchen. Some homeowner's insurance policies require it.

Keep the extinguisher prpoerly charged and up to date, have it easily accessible, and know how to use it.

- Water usually is not a good way to extinguish a cooking fire. If butter, margarine, cooking oil or meat are being used, water often will spread the flames.

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