Fire Department hosts National Fire Prevention Week

The Chapel Hill Fire Department has set the town on fire by promoting fire safety with its family-friendly activities this week.

During National Fire Prevention Week, the department hosted activities around this year’s national theme, “Two Ways Out.”

This week’s festivities, geared toward the campaign, began Sunday at the annual Festifall Street Festival and are scheduled to continue through Saturday.

The fire department’s theme expands on a point in last year’s campaign about protecting families from fire.

“Two Ways Out” is part of an initiative that encourages people to have two escape routes in case of a fire in the home.

Deputy Chief Matt Lawrence said the best way to survive a fire is for residents to plan a method of escape from all rooms of the house.

He said fire safety is important, but not all fires can be prevented, so practicing two ways out gives residents a backup plan.

Many Chapel Hill residents think they are unprepared for an unseen fire.

“I just haven’t really ever thought about an escape plan,” said Carrboro resident Sarah Bauerle. “It doesn’t seem complicated as run out the door.”

The department placed banners in five locations across Carrboro and hosted puppet shows every day at the department’s public education center, “The Fire Place,” to educate elementary students on the importance of fire safety.

“Our hope is that we can more solidly imprint the fire safety message on (the children) using an interactive show,” said Deputy Fire Marshal Dace Bergen.

The puppet shows engaged elementary students through dramatic and visual arts.

“It’s never too soon to get the message out there to kids about how to be safe if they’re in a fire,” said Kamie Edwards, a fire prevention volunteer.

Edwards said she thought the puppet shows were a success this year.

“This edition of the puppet show was a fantastic expansion of the program,” she said. “Instead of just standing in front of them, we are able to keep them completely engaged so they are listening.”

The fire department can help residents build escape plans and receive further information about fire safety.

Residents said Fire Prevention Week has prompted them to think about their escape routes.

“It’s definitely something a family should go over with their children,” said Hanna Isenberg, a Monroe resident.

Staff photographer Mark Perry contributed reporting.

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