East Tennessee firefighter creates business to save families

East Tennessee firefighter creates business to save families from house fires

Posted:
Gary Watlington, a firefighter at ORNL, visited the Rose family to talk with them about fire safety. Gary Watlington, a firefighter at ORNL, visited the Rose family to talk with them about fire safety.
Watlington, who has over 20 years experience as a firefighter, says there are many misconceptions about fires families need to be aware of. Watlington, who has over 20 years experience as a firefighter, says there are many misconceptions about fires families need to be aware of.
Watlington walked with the family through their home to show them things they need to improve. Watlington walked with the family through their home to show them things they need to improve.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A local firefighter wants families to stay safe and is helping them by assessing homes' and families' fire readiness.    

Tennessee ranks in the top ten for fire fatalities in the nation, with 80 fire deaths this year.   

Gary Watlington, who is currently a firefighter at ORNL, wants to see that number drop, so he started his own business called Fireproof Safety Solution to teach people how to prevent and survive house fires.

Watlington, who has over 20 years experience as a firefighter, says there are many misconceptions about fires families need to be aware of.

"People think that it's not going to happen to me and that is the number one misconception," said Watlington.

On Monday, he went to the Rose family's home in Powell to educate them about fire safety.

He made them take a test to see how much they really know. He also walked with the family through their home to show them things they need to improve.  

"I think the biggest surprise to me is how quickly a fire can spread," said homeowner Doug Rose.   

Watlington showed them where their smoke alarms and fire extinguishers need to go. He says many people do not realize asphyxiation is the number one killer in house fires.

"It's just not a big fire," he said. "It could be a small smoldering fire."    

He says it is very important for families to have an escape plan, and to teach their kids not to hide during a fire.

"Today the way houses are built, and all the petroleum based stuff we have in houses, you may have one to two minutes," he said.

The Rose family says there is a lot they need to fix.

"I didn't know smoke detectors could expire," said Doug Rose. "We will probably go through and replace our smoke detectors."

"I think we are going to go through a family escape plan and looking to get the ladders," said Lindsey Rose, "Definitely get a good fire extinguishers."

Watlington says he hopes the knowledge he can provide will help save more family from heartache. He says the educational portion of his presentation is free, but he provides products to purchase, to better protect your home.

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