“Hear the Beep Where You Sleep” is the theme for this year’s Fire Prevention Week set for Oct. 5 to 9 and the White Sands Missile Range Fire Department will host several events throughout the week in celebration.
“We want to educate the public on safe fire prevention measures to take with you to work, home, anywhere you go, really,” said WSMR Fire Chief Carlos Soto. “Every year we focus on a specific theme for Fire Prevention Week. This year it’s directed towards a smoke detector.”
The campaign kicks-off at the Post Exchange Oct. 5 at 10 a.m. The Fire Department will be offering free blood pressure checks and providing information on smoke detectors.
During the rest of the week the fire department will make its way to White Sands School and the Child Development Center and will also host an Open House for the children at the main fire station. The week will end at the Frontier Club with a table display.
A poster contest will also be held at White Sands School in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week. There will be three prizes awarded to the first and second grade group, the third and fifth grade group and the fifth and eighth grade group.
“The children are our best audience because they go home and tell their parents what they learned in school,” Soto said.
WSMR Fire Inspector Anne O’Brien said the main focus of Fire Prevention Week is to remind people to check their smoke detectors, develop an evacuation plan, have a fire extinguisher, and teach children how to dial 911.
“The big thing for Fire Prevention Week is a way for the Fire Department to teach what we do all year long,” O’Brien said.
Smoke detectors should be tested on a monthly basis and batteries should be changed as needed. O’Brien said that although many people know what they should do, most admit to not having checked their detectors in years and just assume the detectors work.
“Safety starts with us at home. Smoke detectors are the first line of defense,” O’Brien said.
“Smoke detectors are designed to be the first alert so they can safely evacuate their home or office,” Soto added.
O’Brien said Fire Prevention Week is a great opportunity to highlight safety practices that will help reduce fire related incidents throughout the community. She said they are taking advantage of the entire week and using every day as an opportunity to provide information that will keep the community safe and informed.
“Fire safety is important all year long not just in October,” O’Brien said.
Along with hosting Fire Prevention Week and responding to hazardous incidents throughout the main post, the WSMR fire department consistently stays busy. Though they may not receive too many incident calls due to the size of the installation, the firefighters are responsible for several duties throughout the entire range. Firefighters are responsible for providing structural firefight, hazardous material response, facility inspections, response to terrorist acts, confined space rescue, medical response, and basic emergency medical response. Terrorist acts include chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and external responses. Firefighters also provide aircraft and helicopter coverage.
The WSMR firefighters also serve as the first response to Highway 70 accidents and cover the main post as well as the external range from mile marker 15 in El Paso, Texas, to the northern part of Highway 70 all the way up to Highway 370. They also respond to incidents at Launch Complex 94 on the northern part of Highway 370. In order to cover a wide range of land, the WSMR Fire Department manages a total of three installations on range. Soto said when they are not responding to incidents, they are working on trainings to ensure that they are ready to respond to the variety of incidents they are called to.
“We just don’t sit at the fire station, we’re training,” Soto said.
During fire prevention week, fire inspectors are also offering training to organizations who wish to host a safety training. The trainings vary from fire extinguisher trainings to fire safety plans.
As an incentive to get people excited about Fire Prevention Week, O’Brien said Sparky, the Fire Department mascot, a Dalmatian, will be at the front gate throughout the entire week. Sparky will switch from the El Paso, Texas, to the Las Cruces, New Mexico, gate.
“We’re looking forward to it, it will be a great campaign for White Sands. We hope everyone can come out and participate at one point,” O’Brien said.