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Fire prevention week warms up at Ellsworth

Capt. Saira McGan, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, pulls a training dummy while racing through the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted multiple events during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week, including a Firefighter Challenge, a parade and school demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Capt. Saira McGan, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron operations officer, pulls a training dummy while racing through the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted multiple events during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week, including a Firefighter Challenge, a parade and school demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Michelle Medina, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels facility operator, unravels a hose during the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The challenge was one many events hosted by the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Airman 1st Class Michelle Medina, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron fuels facility operator, unravels a hose during the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The challenge was one many events hosted by the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Airman Caitlyn Halloway, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technician, hits the Kaiser I-beam of a FORCE Machine with a sledgehammer during the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted multiple events during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week, including the Firefighter Challenge, a parade and school demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Airman Caitlyn Halloway, a 28th Logistics Readiness Squadron vehicle maintenance technician, hits the Kaiser I-beam of a FORCE Machine with a sledgehammer during the Firefighter Challenge at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted multiple events during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week, including the Firefighter Challenge, a parade and school demonstrations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Beutler, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, pulls a rope with an attached hose over a stair railing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. Several squadrons on base formed teams to compete in the Firefighter Challenge, one of the many events hosted by the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Senior Master Sgt. Joshua Beutler, the 28th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron first sergeant, pulls a rope with an attached hose over a stair railing at Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 5, 2018. Several squadrons on base formed teams to compete in the Firefighter Challenge, one of the many events hosted by the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Staff Sgt. Tanner Newman, a 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight crew chief, sets up an informational booth with prevention souvenirs at the Exchange on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 10, 2018. The fire protection flight hosted events, such as a firefighter challenge, a parade and fire safety demonstrations, at Ellsworth AFB and in Box Elder during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

Staff Sgt. Tanner Newman, a 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight crew chief, sets up an informational booth with prevention souvenirs at the Exchange on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 10, 2018. The fire protection flight hosted events, such as a firefighter challenge, a parade and fire safety demonstrations, at Ellsworth AFB and in Box Elder during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

A training dummy dressed like a firefighter stands next to a fire prevention poster at the Exchange on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 10, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted events, such as a firefighter challenge, a parade and fire safety demonstrations, at Ellsworth AFB and in Box Elder during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

A training dummy dressed like a firefighter stands next to a fire prevention poster at the Exchange on Ellsworth Air Force Base, S.D., Oct. 10, 2018. The 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted events, such as a firefighter challenge, a parade and fire safety demonstrations, at Ellsworth AFB and in Box Elder during National Fire Prevention and Safety Week. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Thomas Karol)

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- National Fire Prevention and Safety Week was started in 1925 by President Calvin Coolidge to help educate the populous about proper techniques when dealing with fires. During this week, fire departments across the country get out into their local communities to teach fire hazard awareness and the importance having fire escape plans at work and at home. Each year, the event’s theme changes, and this year it’s: “Look. Listen. Learn.”

This year, the 28th Civil Engineer Squadron fire protection flight hosted events at Ellsworth Air Force Base and Box Elder, such as a firefighter challenge, a parade and school demonstrations.

“We’ve held these events so that community members can be aware of the dangers of fires and how to handle them,” said Bill Beck, the 28th CES assistant chief of fire prevention. “We invited all the squadrons from around the base to come out and participate in some friendly competition and learn about fire prevention. We also go out to schools in the area to teach kids to look for fire hazards, listen for smoke detectors and to learn how to make a plan at home so they can get out of their home safely.”

“Look. Listen. Learn.” is targeted toward all audiences but is mostly aimed at children. Recent studies show that children often sleep through smoke alarms, Beck said. This year’s theme is attempting to combat that issue.

“As a parent, my chief concern in a house fire would be my kids,” Beck said. “It’s our responsibility to ensure they are out of the house and keep them safe.”

Ellsworth AFB firefighters encouraged the children they taught to be proactive about their own safety. They asked the kids to make fire escape plans with two exit routes for each building, whether that be for their school or home.

“Our [primary] concerns are the safety of people, property conservation and scene stabilization,” said Staff Sgt. Jordan LaPoint, a 28th CES fire protection flight crew chief. “If people make a plan and practice regular fire drills, it means we don’t have to risk our lives going into a burning building looking for them. It definitely makes our lives easier.”

A well-rehearsed fire escape plan can be a huge relief to firefighters combatting a blaze on scene, Lapoint explained.

“This week is important to me because we can save someone’s life by doing demonstrations and teaching people about fire safety,” he added. “It’s a great thing to see when a family is standing outside of a burning house at a meeting point. We can move straight to putting out the fire, which may help save others’ lives and property.”

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