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Kids get up-close look at firefighters’ gear

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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media Fire Chief Travis Witbeck explains the gear and equipment firefighters use.
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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media Families check out firefighters' gear and a fire truck during a Fire Prevention Week event at Oakbrook Manor Apartments in Ravena.
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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media Fire Chief Travis Witbeck hands out fire prevention information to some eager youngsters.
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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media Firefighters visited sites around the community last week to spread awareness and provide fire safety tips.
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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media A youngster gets an up-close look at the inside of a fire truck during Fire Prevention Week at Oakbrook Manor Apartments.
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    Thomas Marra/For Columbia-Greene Media A firefighter helps a young girl climb down from the drivers' seat of the ladder truck from the Ravena Fire Department.
October 12, 2018 12:16 am

RAVENA — What kid wouldn’t like to sit behind the wheel of a real fire truck?

That’s what youngsters at Oakbrook Manor Apartments in Ravena got to do last weekend when the Ravena Fire Department visited the complex during Fire Prevention Week.

On Sunday, Oct. 7, firefighters came to the apartment complex with Ladder Truck 26-70, and gave children the chance to climb aboard and even sit in the driver’s seat. They also handed out fire safety and prevention information.

It was part of a series of activities the department took part in to mark Fire Prevention Week. Other events the department participated in included several storytimes at the RCS Community Library, and a disaster preparedness class on Tuesday.

Fire Prevention Week is held nationwide each year in order to share prevention tips and let communities know how they can stay safe.

This year’s campaign for the week was “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” according to the Fire Prevention Week website.

The campaign, according to the website, “works to educate people about three basic but essential steps to take to reduce the likelihood of having a fire — and how to escape safely in the event of one.”

The first component is “look” – seek out places where a fire could start by identifying potential hazard areas and resolving them. Cooking fires are the leading cause of home fires in the U.S., causing nearly half of all home fires each year, according to the website. Never leave the kitchen unattended while food is cooking, remove clutter from the cooking area so items can’t catch fire, and always be alert.

The second leading cause of home fires is home heating, the website states, making up 15 percent of all home fires annually. Failure to clean heating equipment is the biggest culprit.

Other things to be cautious about are burning candles, smoking materials like cigarettes and pipes, and electrical equipment.

The second component of this year’s fire prevention campaign is to “listen” for the sound of a smoke alarm. Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, in each bedroom and near all sleeping areas. They should be tested monthly to make sure they are in working order, and should be replaced after 10 years.

“You could have only minutes to escape safely once the smoke alarm sounds,” according to the website. “Go to your outside meeting place, which should be a safe distance from the home and where everyone should know to meet.”

“Learn” is the final point in this year’s campaign, urging everyone to learn two ways out of every room in the house. It’s also critical to make sure all doors and windows that lead outside can be easily opened and are free of clutter.

Having a plan — and making sure every member of the family knows the plan — is important in a fire.

“People tend to think the risk of having a home fire is low. They also think home is the place they’re safest from fire when it’s actually the place they’re at greatest risk,” according to the website. “In fact, home fires can and do happen quite often: U.S. fire departments responded to a home fire every 90 seconds in 2016. Also, the majority of U.S. fire deaths (approximately 80 percent) occur in homes.”

Fire departments across the country have held activities in their communities to spread the word and make sure people are aware of the most effective ways of preventing fire in the first place, and knowing what to do if there is a fire.