Many in Monroe County are heartbroken because of a house fire that killed a 3-year-old little boy. It happened Tuesday at a home on Belcher Road in Madisonville.
Two other people were taken to the hospital, a third also receiving emergency care. We’re told all three have been released.
In light of this tragedy, Rural Metro firefighters showed us how families can develop their own safety plan in case of a fire.
A fire is made up of three components: heat, oxygen and fuel. Depending on that, a fire can double in size within 60 seconds. Firefighters say an esape plan is vital.
Early detection is key and the best way families can do that is having a properly working smoke alarm.
“These need to be tested once a month and once they become 10-years old, they’re considered expired and need to be replaced,” said Larry Wilder, Fire and Life Safety Specialist with Rural Metro Fire.
Firefighters say you need to have two ways out of every room in your home.
“Get you a piece of graph paper and draw you a simple diagram of your home’s floor plan, show windows and doors, hallways and things like that. You actually plot the quickest way to get out of the house and the key, like any good plan, is you have to practice it,” said Wilder.
It’s important to make sure windows open properly. Wilder says if you’re on the second floor, consider getting an escape ladder, “Get out of the house, where do I go? Well, we don’t want people to scatter because we have to have accountability. The way we do that is we encourage families to pick a safe meeting place. It could be the mailbox out front. A good place is maybe the neighbor’s house.”
Firefighters say part of your plan includes closing bedroom doors at night as another barrier. As well as teaching kids to go low, crawling to avoid smoke and heat.
“We use the back of our hand to check doors to make sure they’re not hot. So if a door’s hot, we don’t go that way,” added Wilder.
He says it’s okay to start talking about fire safety with kids who are preschool age, from there you can develop your safety plan and build off of that.
“You want them to understand that it will be very hectic, the smoke and fire and heat and particularly if it happens in the middle of the night, it can be very frightening. They need to stay calm,” said Wilder.
Firefighters say most importantly, go over your escape plan every month.
“It’s just practice, practice, practice so that it’s instinctive,” said Wilder.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a family’s ability to get out of your home, during a fire depends on advance warning from smoke alarms as well as advance planning.
An NFPA survey found that only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan.
Firefighters demonstrate search and rescue operations:
When it comes to fighting fires, firefighters say their number one priority is saving lives.
Rural Metro firefighters walked us through what a search and rescue operation looks like at their training facility in West Knoxville.
When crews first show up to the scene, they do what’s called a 360, where they walk the entire perimeter of the home checking for changing fire conditions and potential victims that could be rescued from outside.
“If we can meet with the homeowner and we can get assurance that no one is in the building, then that allows us to kind of change our tactics. We still do a priority search, however, if there’s confirmation that there’s a victim in there the we look for those doorways, windows are normally where we would find someone first. We’re prioritizing bedrooms and also bathrooms are a refuge,” said Battalion Chief William Kear with Rural Metro Fire.
There may be several crews on site, one tasked with putting out the fire, the other crews focusing on searching and clearing rooms.
“Firefighters are challenged to be about a 10-second search per room and to move systematically through the structure, working towards the fire first and then moving away,” added Chief Kear.
One search pattern tactic in a room has a pair of firefighters, both on their hands and knees, using a long tool as an anchor to the doorway as they sweep the room with their hands looking for victims.
“They have to make sure they clear the bed, under the bed and also the closet area. The thermal imaging camera is a tool that we’ve used for years now that helps us recognize those heat indicators where we can see through smoke,” added Chief Kear.
Rural Metro firefighters say search and rescue operations come down to speed, time and efficiency.