At least, that’s how Lafayette Fire Chief Keith Scruggs says he feels about educating the community about fire prevention.
Fire Prevention Week, sponsored nationally by the National Fire Protection Association, is being observed this week from Oct. 3-9, and fireman from the Lafayette Fire Department has been making stops at area schools in an effort to educate the community, especially the children, about fire safety.
“When I became fire chief in 1999, one of the major problems we had was with juvenile fire setters,” said Scruggs, who has been with the fire department for 36 years.
“Now, we very rarely have juvenile fires. A few years ago, we had one every other month or so.
“By teaching children, you also reach out to their families.”
Members of the fire department have been taking a fire engine to the schools to show the students and faculty what kinds of things the firefighters use to put out fires. They also show the children what they look like in their gear so that they will not be afraid if a firefighter comes to rescue them.
The fire department borrows the “Fire House” from the Lebanon Fire Department to show kids how to practice fire safety in their homes and how they can escape from a fire if they have to.
The “Fire House” is a camper that contains a kitchen, living room, and upstairs bedroom, which are used as visual aids to explain fire safety in the home.
“That is a great tool, and we’re really grateful that Lebanon lets us use that. We hope to have one of our own soon. We’re working on getting the funds for that.
“We know that it works. We know that getting the information into the children’s hands is a great way to get the information out there.”
According to Scruggs, Tennessee is number three in the nation for fire deaths, but there has not been a fire-related death in Macon County in a couple of years.
Scruggs attributes this to the willingness of the fire department members helping to put smoke detectors in every home they can. They have limited supplies of free smoke detectors.
Firemen also offer counseling to the community. Their office hours are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday for anyone who has questions about fire prevention preparedness or the fire department’s operation in general. Fire officials will make house visits for elderly citizens concerned about fire preparedness.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure,” said Scruggs. “If we can save one life with this, it’s well worth the time and effort.”
Safe and Drug Free Schools and Coordinated School Health helped organize the firemen’s visits to the schools this week.