To the point week of 10-2-08


EACH AND EVERY MONTH is dedicated to dozens of special topics and causes, and as we enter October, there is one in particular that everyone needs to take very seriously.

October is Fire Prevention Month, and throughout the next four weeks, you’re going to get all sorts of information about how to make sure that your home is as safe as possible from fire. You will be told to change the batteries in your smoke detectors; or you may need to get smoke detectors and install them. You need to plan escape routes for your family; and you need to make sure that the fire extinguisher in your house is in working order.

We all know all of the information is coming, but probably none of us will heed any of the advise that is offered.

We will try and get around to checking on our smoke detectors, but then we’ll remember that we’re supposed to check them and change the batteries when Daylight Savings Time ends and begins; so we won’t worry about it.

We’ll figure that our children surely know their way out of the house, even at night, and if they can’t then we’ll go in and get them.

We’ve never used that fire extinguisher under the kitchen sink (is it still under the sink?), so since it’s never gone off, it must still be good, right?

The problem is – all of those excuses seem pretty sensible.

They could also get you killed.

No one likes to think about having a house fire, but they happen, and it’s only prudent to try and do whatever we can to prevent them. After all, it doesn’t take long or much money to check smoke alarms or replace batteries. Your kids might think you’re a little lame for having a fire drill; but – as scary as it may seem – you won’t seem so lame if you’re all standing in the front yard, safe and sound.

Along with preparations during Fire Prevention Week, it’s also a good time to pause and take a few moments to thank the men and women who serve on our volunteer fire departments.

I stress the word “volunteer”.

During the attacks of September 11th, 2001, I heard someone say that firemen were people who – while everyone else was running away from tragedy – instead were running toward it.

That’s a pretty good account of what a fireman does. It takes a special and brave person to look at a burning building, and then try and figure out a way to go inside of it and save whoever and whatever they can. They train and they work to buy equipment that they hope that they will never have to use, but they prepare anyway.

I admire firefighters like I admire those who serve in the military. I also stand amazed at the fact that most of those firefighters do it for no pay. There are fire departments in almost every community in Indiana, but the vast majority of those departments are volunteer organizations. Most small and medium-sized communities have to rely on volunteers to provide fire protection.

Those men and women hope we never have to see them in action; because that means that there are no fires and everyone is safe.

We are fortunate here in Switzerland County that our fire companies are also committed to being a part of the community. They allow events to be hosted in their fire houses; they plan and organize events to benefit charities in the county; and – as with the recent wind storms – they also open their doors to allow people in need to come in and have a hot meal and get a little rest.

October is Fire Prevention Month, so while we are working to prevent fires in our homes, we should always remember that in doing so we are also working to help protect the safety of men and women who will have to go into our burning home if something goes wrong.

Check your smoke detectors, and then thank a fireman.