Editorial: Do your part to prevent fires

Published 3:20 pm Friday, October 29, 2021

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Fire protection has been a focus for local governments during recent meetings as municipal fire departments have received updated ratings from the Insurance Service Organization.

The ISO rating is determined by a review of several factors, including response times, types and age of equipment and whether firefighters are full-time or volunteer. The lower the class number the better.

At the moment, Jemison is the only fire department that has a station staffed 24/7. A presentation has been made to the Clanton City Council to make Station 1 downtown a fully staffed station. Jemison has a Class 3 ISO rating. Clanton has a Class 4 ISO rating.

Numerous volunteer firefighters are essential to fire protection and medical call response for municipal and rural fire departments throughout the county.

While having a good fire department is important, there are things that residents can do to prevent fires from stating in the first place.

Each year efforts are made nationally during Fire Prevention Month in October to make people aware of safety tips and best practices.

Clanton Fire Chief David Driver had these tips to share:

– “Always keep combustible materials at least 3 feet from a heat source (heater, fireplace, etc.) in all directions.

– Never use extension cords for electric heaters or for permanent use.

– Have chimney inspected and cleaned annually prior to use.

– Test smoke detectors monthly and change batteries twice a year.  Good way to remember; when the time changes, change the batteries.

– Know two ways out in the event of a fire.

– Have a designated meeting place outside that the whole family and visitors know about.”

Residents should also be extremely cautious when burning leaves, limbs or trash so that the wind does not carry a spark and spread the fire. These activities should be avoided entirely in times of drought.

Safer alternative methods of disposal may be available and are worth researching.

For those who may not be able to afford a smoke alarm, the Chilton County High School FFA will be giving away smoke alarms at Clanton Fire Station 1 in downtown Clanton on Oct. 30 on a first-come, first-serve basis starting at 10 a.m.

Let us each do our part to prevent fires from starting whenever possible and support all of our local firefighters whenever we can.

Contact your local fire station for ideas. Many hold fundraisers to help buy new equipment, and many have a need for additional volunteers.