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Firefighters want to visit before there’s an emergency

7:12 pm June 13th, 2012

The Dispatch

The Eatonville Fire Department wants to come to your house for something other than a fire or an avoidable accident.

The agency this month has started conducting fire safety inspections of homes. By appointment and at the request of homeowners, department personnel will check for potential fire hazards. They’ll also point out any risks of injury from fall.

The idea is twofold: To make people safer under their own roofs, and to demonstrate the proactive side of firefighters’ work.

“We want to help the people of Eatonville become more aware of fire and life safety problems,” said fire chief Bob Hudspeth. “And we want to show that our department is a progressive department dedicated to the health and welfare of the citizens.”

Hudspeth said the safety evaluations, which are free to anyone who asks, focus on “identifiable issues that have proven over the years to be causes of fire” and other incidents leading to accidental deaths and injuries. Looking inside and outside, firefighters will make general observations and point out any imminent risks involving:

• Heating and cooking (radiant heat and open flame).

• Flammable materials such as liquids stored in garages and lint behind clothes dryers.

• Hazards that could cause people to trip and fall.

• Electrical hazards from overloaded electrical outlets and extension cords. •

Smoke and carbon monoxide alarms – how many and where they are needed, and the importance of testing them.

• A fire escape plan. Officials will create one for a home’s occupants or update an old plan if needed.

• Fire risks from smoking and candles. Firefighters will give suggestions on the placement and uses of ash trays and cigarette butt cans. For example, the latter should never be on flammable decks or porches, officials advise.

• Safety measures outside the home, such as readily visible house numbers to help responders identify where the emergency is. Shrubbery that’s too close to structures is another red flag.

The Fire Department has answered more than 220 emergency calls this year. About 80 percent have been medical emergencies. Preventive efforts can help keep fires to a minimum, officials noted.

“We’re here to serve the people of this town,” Hudspeth said.

The inspections are only for homes. Businesses and other non-residential structures in Eatonville are handled through separate

Flammable materials stored near an outer wall of a home can be a hazard during a fire, notes Eatonville fire chief Bob Hudspeth. (Michelle Pate/The Dispatch)

fire code enforcement procedures.

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