However, it doesn’t take a special week to remind local firefighters of their two major goals — protecting property and saving lives.
Therefore, they intensify training schedules to hone skills of their profession by gathering at the new search and rescue simulator they build some weeks ago.
Chief Todd Queen said the men built the search and rescue simulator within the training tower, located on grounds back of Rockmart Fire & Emergency Services.
“It puts them in actual scenarios, both in searching houses, rescuing civilians and firefighter self rescue,” he explained.
“Up until now, due to space issues, we accomplished this training by using pallets. We would place obstacles in front of them and black their face pieces.”
Although this provided good training, Queen said the men felt they were losing realism by not being in a simulated smoke environment.
Thereafter, the idea morphed from the original concept and a two level structure was erected within the training tower.
This allows for entry from either level so that a search can be conducted from the top down or ground floor up for a greater level of difficulty.
“It allows us to do a whole lot more realistic training than we have been doing,” Queen explained.
“In a real fire situation, you are dealing with a limited time window. The building is degrading as flames consume the structure.”
As to Fire Prevention Week, Queen said there would be no clown programs, which is now on a two-year cycle for presentations to local school children.
Instead, firefighters will host groups or classes who chose to do a tour of the fire station.
Children are given information about safety and the importance of smoke detectors, which is compared to a watchdog on the wall that is always sniffing the air for fire danger.
Chief Queen said, with the economic downturn and tight money, there are real concerns among firefighters that people will try to save money by not replacing batteries or placing smoke detectors in their home.
Chief Queen said experience has taught that fire calls increase when people don’t use preventive measures.
Smoke alarms are the most effective early warning device available for the home.
Since they were introduced to consumers in the 1970s, the alarms have helped to reduce the home fire death rate by one half. Even though they are now widely popular, roughly 70 percent of home fire deaths result from fires in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
Fires can spread through a home rapidly, and in some cases, individuals may have as little as two minutes to escape to safety once the alarm sounds.
“We are fortunate that we have not had a significant fire-related injury in Rockmart’s city limits since 2004,” Queen explained. “It is important that batteries are changed twice a year in the smoke detector.”
In addition, he urged Rockmart residents to learn about E.D.I.T.H. (Exit Drills in the Home).
This includes developing an escape plan that includes two ways out of each room and a meeting place outside the home. Practice it with the whole family at least twice a year.
In the latest study, conducted by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), home fires killed 3,050 people.
That averaged out to roughly 8 people killed in home fires every day in 2005.
There were also 13,300 fire injuries from home fires (not including firefighter injuries) reported by United States fire departments. Sixty-five percent of home-fire deaths occurred in homes with no smoke alarms or no working smoke alarms.
“When we respond to a fire call and arrive at the scene,” Queen said, “the first question we ask ‘Is everyone out?’ and the answer dictates our action.
"It will mean whether we go on to attack and put out the blaze to protect property or to do search and rescue to save a life.”