October 6 – 12 is National Fire Prevention Week led by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge proclaimed National Fire Prevention Week to be observed during the week of October 9, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. The Great Chicago Fire began on October 8, 1871, and did most of its damage on October 9. In total, the historic blaze killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,000 structures, and burned more than 2,000 acres.
In honor of National Fire Prevention Week, the City of Council Bluffs is highlighting the Council Bluffs Fire Department for their dedication to educating our community on fire prevention and fire safety, via initiatives such as Project Alex, public education, and youth fire setter intervention.
“The Council Bluffs Fire Department is committed to giving back to our community,” said CB Fire Inspector, Bob Martin. “We enjoy getting to know our residents at local block parties, hydrant parties, and through all of our public education programs.”
Since October 1, 2016, the City of Council Bluffs has had 693 fire-related emergencies, including 262 structure fires, 152 mobile property fires, 129 outdoor rubbish fires, 105 natural vegetation/ brush fires, and 45 miscellaneous fires.
“The vast majority of structure fires in Council Bluffs are related to cooking, discarded smoking materials, and overloaded electrical equipment, therefore preventable. The CBFD continuously strives to educate our residents on fire prevention and safety, and National Fire Prevention Week is the perfect time to remind folks of our programs,” said Martin.
The Council Bluffs Fire Department founded Project Alex in 2010 after two separate fires claimed the lives of two children. Thanks to the generous support of several businesses, organizations, foundations, and individual donors, Project Alex provides dual-sensor smoke detectors to residents in need.
Smoke detectors are the first line of defense in the event of a fire in a home or business as they provide an early warning of a fire and allow additional escape time. According to the NFPA, 40% of home fire deaths happened in homes with no smoke alarms and 17% happened in homes with smoke alarms that had missing or disconnected batteries.
Thanks to Project Alex, on-duty Fire Department personnel check each home they respond to for working detectors. If none are present or the smoke detectors need replacing due to age; new detectors are installed before personnel leave. The Council Bluffs Fire Department will also replace batteries and leave fire safety information with the occupants of the home, all in the hope of keeping our residents and community safe.
The CBFD encourages residents to be proactive and change batteries in smoke detectors along with clocks for daylight savings time.
Upon request, the CBFD provides public education presentations to schools, businesses, and other organizations. Examples of presentations include Exit Drills in the House (EDITH), Fire Extinguisher Classes, Juvenile Fire Setter Program, Safety House, Smoke Alarms, and Escape Plans. To schedule a presentation, please contact the Council Bluffs Fire Department Public Education Department at 712-328-4646.
Additionally, the CBFD provides education and redirection assistance to children who exhibit fire setting behaviors. According to the NFPA, between 2007 and 2011, an average of 49,300 fires per year involved playing with fire, and fires set by children cause an annual average of 80 deaths per year, 860 injuries, and $235 million in property damage. Following the State of Iowa Juvenile Fire Intervention Program, the CBFD provides education programs for kids ages 17 and younger. These programs teach kids the power of fire, consequences of playing with fire, fire prevention, and how to survive a fire.
To request a smoke detector check or installation, schedule a presentation, or request assistance with juvenile fire setting, please contact the Council Bluffs Fire Department Public Education Department at 712-328-4646.