According to Hiawatha Fire Chief, Mike Nesslage, firefighters will branch out across Hiawatha to help residents replace smoke detector batteries.
“We provide assistance to those who can’t reach their smoke detectors. We also check the detectors and do a quick safety check. Approximately 2,000 people die in fires every year; most of them in homes without working smoke detectors.”
It’s important to have a working smoke detector on each level of your home, and in every bedroom, said Nesslage.
“A working smoke detector, along with an escape plan, drastically improves your chance of surviving a fire.”
Smoke detectors should be tested monthly, the battery replaced annually, and detectors should be replaced every 10 years.
“It’s important to have an exit, or escape plan for your home and to communicate it with the people you live with. That plan should have two ways out and should account for helping young children that may live with you.
Nesslage said a closed door can slow a fire spread and protect you if there is a fire.
“We encourage people to close their doors at night. Should a fire occur, the closed door will separate you from the smoke giving you time to wake and think before acting. If trapped, a closed door can separate you from the fire.”
Hiawatha Firefighters will also be busy visiting Hiawatha and Nixon Elementary schools, where they teach the kids about smoke detectors and escape plans.
“Dozens of kids will visit the fire station, and we will be out in the community doing fire extinguisher demonstrations for local businesses.”
According to Nesslage, the Hiawatha Fire Department was recently presented with a Life Safety Award for their fire prevention accomplishments in 2016 by the National Association of State Fire Marshals Fire Research and Education Foundation in partnership with Grinnell Mutual.
“The Life Safety Award has recognizes local fire prevention efforts that have contributed to reducing the number of lives lost in residential fires.” He said. “We are one of 160 departments from across the United States that received the award for 2016. In most cases it was presented to departments that reduced fire deaths by 10%. In our case, we were recognized for our active and effective fire prevention programs as well and a clear commitment to reducing the number of house fires in the community.
“The award would not be possible without the strong support of the members who support programs ranging from Touch-a-Truck and library story time, to smoke detector checks and home visits. We touch well over 1,000 people through our events every year.”
Sign-ups for the Battery Up program can be done by email to Chief Mike Nesslage at firstname.lastname@example.org, or calling 319-393-4180.