Don’t fault firefighters for always wanting to spark thoughts about fire prevention and safety. It commands extra attention every year during national Fire Prevention Week, which begins Sunday.
The Myrtle Beach Fire Department will have its annual Fire Prevention Expo and Open House 10 a.m.-2 p.m. next Saturday, the final day of the special week, at the city’s Station No. 6, 970 38th Ave. N., just east of Grissom Parkway.
Similar interactive, family friendly open houses are planned for the main fire stations in Murrells Inlet-Garden City Fire District 5:30-8 p.m. Thursday and the city of Georgetown 6-8 p.m. Thursday, and in North Myrtle Beach 10 a.m.-2 p.m. next Saturday.
Lt. Christian Sliker, the Myrtle Beach Fire Department’s fire safety education coordinator for almost five years, spoke of how he and firefighting brethren nationwide mark this special week usually on or near the second week of October.
Question | How much extra giddy-up do you and all firefighters have for this week, never mind that education, awareness and reminders remain a year-round cause?
Answer | It’s definitely busier on the ... education side, but we’re continuously planning events for this, and of course, keeping it fresh and doing something new every year.
Q. | What’s the most fun part for firefighters who take part in this event?
A. | They get to really interact with the public, not that they don’t on a regular basis. It’s good to come to something like this and see the public ... in a nonemergency basis – they’re not there because something has happened, but there to learn how to prevent something from happening, and just hang out. It’s really cool for the parents and for the kids.
Q. | What are the most overlooked things at home we all could address easily for improved safety?
A. | This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is “Preventing Cooking Fires.” Cooking is one of the leading causes of fires across the United States, especially from people leaving cooking unattended. People should always keep two eyes on the cooking and have a fire extinguisher ready inside the kitchen, just in case.
... To me, the most important part is people having an escape plan, for knowing how to get out, and knowing where to meet when they get out.
Q. | In considering other ways to help emergency personnel help in an unforeseen crisis, how important are address numbers on a house or mailbox?
A. | It’s good for people to know this, to have large numbers so we can spot them, especially when it’s pitch black at night. ... Myrtle Beach firefighters are very good at knowing where addresses are; we don’t just go to a place for a fire. By knowing street addresses, we go around to know the streets. ... We make sure they know every avenue; that’s one of the parts of our mentor tests.
Q. | What’s one lacking household safety step that fire departments want to address in educational efforts?
A. | This year, for a program we’re starting in Fire Prevention Week, we’ve partnered with Chick-fil-A. ... A lot of kids don’t know their home address; when they call 911, the operator asks for the address, and if the kids don’t know it, it makes it harder for firefighters to know where to go. ...
Chick-fil-A has provided forms saying “I know my address.” The children can fill each in their address, and take it to Chick-fil-A on Mr. Joe White Avenue, and give it to the cashier. If they can recite their address to the casher, they get a free ice cream cone. ...
We’ll be promoting this at Myrtle Beach Primary School; they’re the youngest students around, and they also need to know their address. ... If Mommy or Daddy has a heart issue, children will know how to call for help.
Q. | What new technology for smoke detection, such as units with long-lasting batteries, have helped make awareness and keeping up to date more convenient?
A. | With new technology, we have smoke detectors with 10-year batteries. Typically, a smoke detector operates on a battery, or with a battery as a backup if it’s hard wired, and you would want to remember to replace the battery twice a year ... when we spring ahead and fall back. Now even with the 10-year batteries, we still want you to check the alarm twice every month. The 10-year batteries – that’s just great technology, and extending that battery life.
Q. | How much extra push does a four-legged ambassador help in your outreach, and who is the star pooch escorting you on stops across the city?
A. | Tower. We do bring him to events; kids love him very much. He’s a 2-year-old Dalmatian and based at the station on Mr. Joe White Avenue.
Q. | What drove you into making firefighting your career?
A. | I’m from New Jersey, and I was a firefighter back home. We volunteered our time; it’s just something we love to do, helping people. When I got hired here by the city of Myrtle Beach, I was asked what I wanted to do; I knew I wanted be the fire safety educator. ...
Part of being a firefighter is making a difference ... Being proactive is what it’s all about. We have a saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764.