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Albert Lea Fire Department prepares for fire prevention week, open house, drills

On Oct. 10 at 7 p.m., EDITH is taking over.

Operation EDITH (exit drills in the home) is part of National Fire Prevention Week, which runs Sunday through Oct. 13. This year’s national theme, as chosen by the National Fire Protection Association, is “Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere.”

The intention of the exit drills — instigated by a civil defense siren — is to help families have a plan in place in case of fire.

In addition to Operation EDITH, the fire department is once again using the week and month to educate children on fire prevention.

“There’s just so many people that just … aren’t, you know, prepared for fire extinguishers, kitchen fires, smoke detectors, CO detectors,” Albert Lea Fire Department shift captain and fire prevention committee member Trevor DeRaad said.

The Albert Lea Fire Department will visit children ages preschool through first grade in Albert Lea Area Schools and St. Theodore during the week as well as the Transitions class at Brookside Education Center. Teaching children early about fire prevention gives them helpful knowledge early on, DeRaad said.

“Our real driving focus is the kids — get ‘em young,” he said.

A firefighter helps a child spray a fire hose at last year’s open house. – Provided

Over the course of the month, the department will also visit assisted living communities to speak with residents about fire prevention.

“We never stop with fire safety and fire prevention,” DeRaad said. “That’s year-long. Because that’s a huge part of the job is educating people on what to do so that they don’t have any issues in the house: campfires, cookouts, wintertime with portable heaters, you know your decorations around Christmas time, Halloween, Fourth of July fireworks — I mean, there’s just so much throughout the year that people have to be aware of to stay safe.”

The fire department will host an open house from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 13. Because 2018 is also the 100th anniversary of the the first engine the city bought for the department, the event will focus on how equipment and techniques have changed.

“You can see how far things have really come,” DeRaad said.

The open house includes live demonstrations, including a firefighter response demonstration, a bailout demonstration and a victim rescue demonstration. DeRaad said the bailout demonstration will showcase the personal kit all firefighters have that allow them to exit safely without a ladder. Attendees can also win prizes and peruse the winners from the NFPA’s poster contest for fifth graders.

It will also be a chance for community members to see the fire department’s setup and visualize how that will change with a new station, DeRaad said.

“It will be an opportunity for people to see how small it is and how much better (a new station) will be for tours and fire prevention talks,” he said.

Those interested in having the fire department speak to a group or business about fire prevention can contact the Albert Lea Fire Department.

About Sarah Kocher

Sarah covers education and arts and culture for the Tribune.

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