Posted on

CITY NOTES: Act now to prevent fire, have a plan if one occurs

By Eric Whipple, Charles City Fire Chief

National Fire Prevention week is right around the corner, Oct. 7-13, 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.

Eric Whipple, Charles City Fire Chief
Eric Whipple, Charles City Fire Chief

This year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign, “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere,” works to educate 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:

• “LOOK” for places fire could start. Take a good look around your home. Identify potential fire hazards and take care of them.

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

• “LEARN” two ways out of every room and make sure all doors and windows leading outside open easily and are free of clutter.

It is important to have operating smoke detectors in each bedroom as well, and on every level of your home. Having these smoke detectors cuts the risk of you dying in a house fire in half.

As the matter of fact, three out of five home fire deaths result from fires in properties without working smoke alarms. Be sure to change the batteries in your detector every year.

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

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 Charles 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.

One last note: Be sure to join us in concluding Fire Prevention Week with the Charles City Fire Department’s annual pancake breakfast from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 14, at the Fire Department. 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!

Our very dedicated group of nearly 30 volunteers and staff of four 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