Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 3-9 this year. A lot of deadly and damaging house fires can be prevented with the right precautions. Stillwater Fire Department Chief Terry Essary answered our questions about Fire Prevention Week.

What officially kicks off Fire Prevention Week?

We start off with a proclamation Monday night. Sparky the Fire Dog and our Fire Marshall will present the proclamation with the Mayor and City Council. However, the real program starts by talking with our kids about fire safety. 

How have you had to adjust the actives due to the pandemic?

We would usually have a team and Sparky go to each grade school to help educate on safety. This year, our Fire Marshall is putting together a video that will be played at the grade schools. Using recorded video does allow us to keep a consistent program so that all kids receive the same great product. 

Beyond the videos, what else will be happening?

Even though we are not sending our teams into the schools, we will have a firetruck waiting for the kids when they are done – a safe outdoor environment where the kids can explore the truck and interact with the Sparky and the firefighters.

As always, we will continue the coloring contest. Two winners from each school will be announced and get a photo with Sparky. Folks from Fire Protection Services help us out by judging the contest.  

Sparky turns 70 years old this year. Who gets to play Sparky?

You know what's funny is he doesn't look 70, but who plays Sparky is top secret. Sparky does a great job capturing the kids' attention while firefighters provide the instruction.

What misconceptions might someone have about fire safety?

When we talk about fire safety, we also talk about overall safety, from putting boiling water on the stove's back burner to staying buckled on long car trips. It's cool to be safe, and you are never too young to start practicing.

For example, practice fire drills. Parents should actively practice what their kids should do in case of smoke. Parents can step up the fun with a smoke machine they might use during Halloween. These smoke machines can create a pretty realistic yet safe smokey environment for kids to understand the need to get low and know where the exits are in a dark environment.

A lot of accidents are very preventable, yet they can have catastrophic results. A little bit of prevention goes a long way. Remember, every week is fire prevention week. 

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