Several fires have taken place in Acadiana over the past week; some were deadly. Local and state fire agencies want to remind the public how to practice fire safety. Fire Prevention week takes place October 7-13, using the theme "have two ways out." The Lafayette Fire Department is taking that message to its youngest citizens. Through daily classes, fire officials will see almost 3,000 students this week.
Alton Trahan, Public Information Officer said," We are stressing the importance of fire drills and to practice them at home and to sit down with the parents as well to draw up a plan."
Through fire drills, practicing escape routes, and demonstrating the use of smoke detectors, they hope children will walk away with more knowledge about fire safety. "We ask them in particular about a working smoke detector, and some of them don't know what it is, what it looks like or what to do if the alarm sounds."
Besides safety tips, the fire department is holding poster coloring contest at schools and for children in the 4th and 8th grades, they are partnering with the Zonta Club, to hold an essay contest.
Karen Lestelle, a member of the Zonta Club said it's important to continue fire education for as long as possible. " We still want those older children to learn. It's very important to reintroduce it every year."
The fire department and the Zonta club are holding an award ceremony on Sunday, October 13 at the Robicheaux Center. There, awards will be given for the best posters, essays and teachers who participated in Fire Prevention Week. Trahan said it's outreach through education that can save lives.
"Fires can be very dangerous and they spread quickly, most of the time catching us off guard. It's important to take it very seriously."
State Fire Marshal H. "Butch" Browning agreed. "You talk to any family that lost a loved one in a fire in the state of Louisiana and they will tell you, they never thought it would have happened to them. Being vigilant and taking steps to prevent fires will limit your exposure to them."
Browning also commended firefighters across the state for their efforts during Fire Prevention Week.
"Not only are they working to fight fires with their hands and their blood and their sweat, but also with their minds. They work every day to educate people to prevent these tragedies from happening and much of our success if because of them."