The safety and security of local residents were prominently featured during Monday’s Lewis County Board of County Commissioners meeting, in which the commissioners read a proclamation publicly recognizing Fire Prevention Week in Lewis County.
Richard Mack, the assistant chief and fire marshal at Centralia’s Riverside Fire Authority, advised those in attendance that homes are the locations at greatest risk of experiencing a fire emergency.
When revealing the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week—“Not Every Hero Wears A Cape: Plan and Practice Your Escape”— Mack made sure to remind listeners to practice safe evacuation of their homes with their families twice a year.
“Anyone can be a hero if you put a plan together and practice it,” he concluded.
Mack cited National Fire Protection Association statistics when noting that 2,630 people were killed in home fires nationwide in 2017, as fire departments responded to 357,000 emergencies that year. Mack also mentioned four out of five fire fatalities occur in private residences.
“The fire death rate per 1,000 home fires reported to U.S. fire departments was four-percent higher in 2017 than in 1980,” Mack said. “Individuals who have planned and practiced a home fire escape plan are more prepared and therefore more likely to survive a fire.”
Mack urged attendees to install smoke alarms throughout residences.
“This is really the key right here. It starts with a smoke alarm. When we hear that (beeping) sound, we know that we need to put our plan in place — we need to escape. This very simple device … may be the difference between life and death,” said Mack, who later announced his plans to retire from his post in February.
Mack also said this year’s winners of a kids’ poster contest emphasizing the theme of planning and practicing an escape plan in the event of a fire emergency.
The students chosen for their drawings were: Jewely Morales of Mossyrock Elementary School (1st grade), Kaleah Payne Edison of Edison Elementary School (2nd grade), Cooper Albertson of Onalaska Elementary School (3rd grade), Jorge Jimenez Nicolas of Orin Smith Elementary School (4th grade), Landon Schow of Orin Smith Elementary School (5th grade) and Mickey March of Adna Middle School.
It was also reported that the children — chosen by a group of judges largely composed of local elected officials and county government employees — will be honored during an awards ceremony, starting at 1 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12 at Centralia’s Polo Ralph Lauren Clearance Factory store, located at 1420 Lum Rd.
“It’s interesting to see fire prevention through a child’s eyes,” said Mack while Centralia Outlets Administrative Assistant Brandi Greenfield showcased each of the submitted depictions to the crowd of attendees at the County Board’s weekly business session.