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Community Notes: National Fire Prevention Week is coming up; plan your exit

By Charles City Fire Chief Eric R. Whipple

National Fire Prevention week is right around the corner, Oct. 9th through the 15th, and I would like to stress just how important it is for you and your family to prepare and practice your plan for the possibility of fire striking your home.

If you plan an evacuation route now, practice getting low to the floor in smoke, and have a safe meeting place once outside, it could save you and your loved ones’ lives.

The Charles City Fire Department is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week.

This year’s campaign, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape”, works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe from home fires.

Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes (or even less time) to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Your ability to get out of a home during a fire depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning.

It’s important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds.

Given that every home is different, every home fire escape plan will also be different. Have a plan for everyone in the home. Children, older adults and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out.

Here are some key home fire escape planning tips:

• Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

• Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of your home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.

• Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

• Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.

• Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.

If at any time you hear sounds that are coming from your detectors and you aren’t sure what may be happening regarding the alarms or are concerned about a potential problem, call our station to request an investigation of what the cause may be.

We will send our on-duty firefighter to your home or business to check out what may be happening and provide you with any assistance you require.

For more on Fire Prevention week, along with great activities for you and your family, visit

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It is a popular time of year for recreational fires as the nights are cool, and sitting around a bonfire is enjoyable. Take heed though, that in January 2012, the City Council passed an open burning ordinance.

In a nutshell, the ordinance regulates open fires to be of recreational type, meaning only natural wood can be burned. No burning of lumber, treated lumber, garbage, etc. is allowed.

The fire must be contained to no larger than three feet wide, and two feet tall. All fires must be extinguished between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m.

No burning of yard waste is permitted, including leaves and sticks.

Be sure to always attend your fire, and have a means of extinguishing the fire close by.

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CCFD volunteers will be hosting their annual pancake breakfast this year serving up our delicious, hot-off-the-griddle pancakes! Please join us at the Fire Station at 704 S. Grand Ave on Sunday, October 16th from 8AM-12:30PM. A freewill donation to our volunteer department will get you all you can eat pancakes, ham and a drink. We hope to see you then!

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Our very dedicated group of 20 volunteers and staff of two career firefighters are always willing to assist others in their time of need. If you ever need anything that the Fire Department can help you out with, don’t hesitate to contact me at 257-6313, or by email at


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