Hear the beep where you sleep

by Airman 1st Class Lynette M. Rolen, 18th Wing Public Affairs
Kadena Air Base

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan -- A proclamation ceremony was held Oct. 6 at Stearley Heights Elementary School, marking the beginning of fire prevention week on Kadena Air Base.

The proclamation was announced and signed by Col. Christopher Amrhein, 18th Wing vice commander, who spoke to both students and teachers about the importance of fire safety during the ceremony.

The theme of this year's fire prevention week is "Hear the beep where you sleep."

Fire Prevention Week entails numerous educational visits to six schools by members of the 18th Civil Engineer Squadron's Fire and Emergency Services Flight. An interactive smokehouse trailer will travel to each school to provide students an opportunity to learn about fire hazards and emergency preparation. The week will also include a safety parade, booth presentation and static display along with an appearance by Sparky, the mascot of the Kadena Fire Department, at the Base Exchange.

"This outreach effort is extremely important, from a base populace perspective, off-base fire agencies and joint fire organizations, because you just never know when you might have to pull on those resources and those relationships to solve problems or potentially save lives," said Lt. Col. Aaron Brooks, 18th CES commander.

The proclamation event began with a lesson about fire prevention week history, which dates back to 1920, when President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation.

Awareness about fire prevention was raised after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which caused significant damage to the city. According to legend, the fire was supposedly started by a cow kicking over a lamp.

"Fire prevention week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire, which killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,000 buildings and burned more than 2,000 acres," Amrhein said.  "Even though that story is thought to be fictional, what isn't fictional is that dealing with fire can be extremely dangerous, and we all need to be aware of the hazards involved."

The proclamation event ended with an opportunity for the students to speak to firefighters, ask questions, see the tools that firefighters use and walk through a simulated house fire where they could test what they learned about fire safety.

To finally end the day, a live burn demonstration was held for Kadena's group commanders.

The demonstrations allowed leaders to see first-hand the capabilities of the 18th CES Fire and Emergency Services Flight. Base leaders were provided with realistic training that involved putting out fires and rescue operations. Not only were they provided with training, but they also physically extinguished fires and performed rescue operations.

The training emphasized the importance of fire prevention and how significant fire safety is.

"I consider it very important that military members of all levels, as well as civilians from the most senior all the way down to the smallest child, participates in and gets educated on fire safety," Amrhein concluded.

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