Local firemen stress the importance of fire prevention

HATTIESBURG, Miss – October is Fire Prevention month and the people who fight fires want that to be a reminder for everyone to be careful. Firemen with the Hattiesburg and Petal Fire Department said practicing safe habits can solve a lot of problems.

Johnnie Johnson with the Hattiesburg FD said most fires are preventable, Marion Sims with Petal FD agrees. Firemen at the Petal station responded to about 30 house fires last year and most could have been avoided.

Johnson said mother nature is sometimes the causes, but most of the time it’s human error, “A lot of faulty wiring, extinction cords; too many items being plugged up to the extinction cord.”

Sims said children could also cause a structure fire, “Kids playing with matches and lighters. Another big thing we see is cooking fires, people leaving food on the stove unattended.”

If your home catches fire, what should you do? Officials tell us to make sure everyone in the home, especially children, know how to react.

“Listen to the beep while you sleep. Teach them to listen to a smoke detector and exit out the home in a safe manner,” Johnson explains that children should be taught to listen for the sound of the smoke detector and react accordingly.

Logistics Chief Sims said draw up a plan of your house and practice a safe exit route, “Have a designated meeting place outside of that plan, so if you do have a fire you know where everyone is supposed to meet; and if someone is not at that meeting place you can contact authorities.”

Both firemen said having a functioning smoke detector in every room is key, “Earlier to call for help; but most of all saving a life. It’s about saving a life for us,”

Fire officials said if your home catches fire, leave immediately. It’s best not to say in the house to dial 911, go to a neighbor for help.

They have a few more tips specifically for parents.

“Make sure they know how to operate a fire extinguisher, you want to teach them to not play with matches. And if there’s smoke in the home, get down low so you can see because the smoke rises,” said Johnson.

“Don’t play with matches or lighters, it can burn you or kill you,” said Sims.

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