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City Notes: Whipple – Take time now to plan and practice home fire escape

By Eric Whipple, Charles City Fire Chief

National Fire Prevention week is right around the corner, Oct. 6-12, 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.

City Notes: Whipple - Take time now to plan and practice home fire escape
Eric Whipple, Charles City Fire Chief

The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) has announced “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!” as the theme for Fire Prevention Week.

This year’s campaign recognizes the everyday people who motivate their households to develop and practice a home fire escape plan; these seemingly basic behaviors can have life-saving impact.

Home fire escape planning should include the following:

• Drawing a map of each level of the home, showing all doors and windows.
• Going to each room and pointing to the two ways out.
• Making sure someone will help children, older adults and people with disabilities wake up and get out.
• Teaching children how to escape on their own in case you cannot help them.
• Establishing a meeting place outside and away from the home where everyone can meet after exiting.

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 a 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 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. No burning of yard waste is permitted, including leaves and sticks.

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.

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 on Sunday, Oct. 13, from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. 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 25 volunteers and staff of 4 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