Arnold Fire and Emergency Services encourage base personnel to have a plan in case of fire Published Oct. 9, 2022 By Bradley Hicks AEDC Public Affairs ARNOLD AIR FORCE BASE, Tenn. -- Something Christian Lyle saw over the summer only strengthened his belief that everyone should heed the advice contained in this year’s Fire Prevention Week theme – “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.” Lyle, Arnold Air Force Base Fire and Emergency Services fire prevention and communications officer, attended a fire inspector course. During one session, a video was shown comparing how quickly modern homes burn compared to older residences. Within five minutes, the fire in the older home had just begun to spread beyond its point of origin. In that same amount of time, full flashover had already occurred in the room of the newer home in which the fire had started. Flashover is the point at which the combustible materials in an area simultaneously burst into flames. “It was just ridiculous the difference between the two of them,” Lyle said. According to the National Fire Protection Association, modern homes burn faster than ever. As a result, the amount of time a family has to exit a burning home is significantly lower than it once was. Fire officials across the country concur that having an escape plan is a necessity. “It’s important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape,” Lyle said. “Everyone needs to be prepared in advance so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Given that every home is different, every home fire escape plan will also be different. Have a plan for everyone in the home. Children, older adults and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out. Make sure that someone will help them.” To further drive home this point, the urgency of developing escape plans is the focus of this year’s Fire Prevention Week campaign. This year, Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 9-15. The annual event, sponsored by the NFPA for the past 100 years, is the longest-running public health observance in the U.S. The goal of Fire Prevention Week is to raise fire safety awareness and provide public education to reduce fire-related casualties. Thirty years ago, families had up to 17 minutes to safely escape a house fire. Now, that time may be as little as two minutes. Residential fires are faster and hotter nowadays due in large part to the prevalence of synthetic materials found in modern homes, Lyle said. Room temperatures can quickly reach more than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. To develop a home fire escape plan, the NFPA recommends: Drawing a basic map of your home. This map should include all doors and windows. Identifying at least two ways out of each room in the home. Making sure the escape plan meets the needs of all family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities. Ensuring that all doors and windows open easily. This includes ensuring the easy removal of window screens if they are installed. Making sure the house or building number can be seen from the street. Having an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home where everyone can gather after escaping. Discussing your fire escape plan with everyone in the home. Practicing a home escape drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice should occur at least once during the day and at least once at night. Making sure everyone in the home knows how to dial 911 or the local emergency number. Smoke alarms are the first line of defense in residential fires and are capable of detecting smoke before the members of a household. The devices should be placed in every bedroom, outside of sleeping areas, such as hallways, and on every level of the home, including the basement. The smoke alarms should be interconnected so that when one sounds, they all sound. Alarm maintenance is essential. Arnold FES Fire Prevention Inspector Steve Macon said smoke alarms should be replaced every 10 years, adding that the manufacturer’s date can be found on the device. He further suggested that alarms should be UL listed, meaning the device meets the required safety standards. It is recommended that fire alarm batteries should be changed a couple of times annually. One way to remember this is to replace the alarm batteries when daylight saving time begins in the spring and again when it ends in the fall. Alarms should be tested monthly and cleaned periodically to remove dust and debris within. Once an alarm goes off, the fire escape plan should go into effect. After someone has escaped from a burning home, it is imperative that they remain outside and not attempt to re-enter the residence, Lyle said. “Property is always replaceable,” he said, “family members and people are not.” To bolster fire safety, every home should have a fire extinguisher, Lyle said. Extinguishers should be removed from the box and placed in a clutter-free location where they are readily available if needed. They should also be tested monthly. Lyle added if someone feels they are unable to use a fire extinguisher in the event of a fire or they have doubts about its ability to extinguish the fire, the best course of action is to escape from the home. Due to the nature of the mission, fire is an ever-present possibility in many facilities at Arnold AFB. Escape maps for each building may be found on each floor of that facility. Fire extinguishers may also be found throughout each floor of every building on base. Macon said members of the workforce should learn where the closest fire extinguisher to their work area is located. Building managers across Arnold also play a key role in base fire safety. Lyle said these team members are familiar with escape plans and are responsible for regular checks of facility fire extinguishers. Building managers may also assign fire wardens for each floor of their facility to aid with evacuation control and may coordinate fire drills for their facility. In the event of a fire evacuation, the building manager will meet with fire officials to provide necessary information. Arnold FES fire prevention personnel are also available to provide fire safety briefings and classes. “Our primary mission is to provide as safe a working environment as possible so the personnel here at Arnold can go home to their friends and family at the end of the day,” Lyle said. “It’s entirely a team effort.” For more information on Fire Prevention Week or fire prevention in general, visit fpw.org and sparky.org or contact the Arnold FES Fire Prevention Office at 931-454-5569 or 931-454-5648.