Every day Americans experience the horror of fire. But most people don’t understand fire. Only when we know the true nature of fire can we prepare ourselves and our families. Each year more than 4,000 Americans die and approximately 20,000 are injured in fires, many of which could be prevented. The United States Fire Administration believes that the fire deaths can be reduced by teaching people the basic facts about fire. Here are some simple facts that explain the characteristics of fire.

Fire is FAST! There is little time! In less than 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire. It only takes minutes for the thick black smoke to fill a house. In minutes, a house can be engulfed in flames. Most fires occur in the home when people are asleep. If you wake up to a fire, you won’t have time to grab valuables because fire spreads to quickly and the smoke is too thick. There is only time to escape.

Fire is HOT! Heat is more threating than flames. A fire’s heat alone can kill. Room temperature in a fire can be 100 degrees at floor level and rise to 600 degrees at eye level. Inhaling this super-hot air will scorch your lungs. In five minutes, a room can get so hot that everything in it ignites at once. This is called flashover.

Fire is DARK! Fire isn’t bright, it’s pitch black.  Fire start bright, but quickly produces black smoke and complete darkness. If you wake up to a fire you maybe blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home you lived in for years.

Fire is DEADLY! Smoke and toxic gases kill more people than flames do. Fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces smoke and poisonous gases that kill. Breathing even small amounts of smoke and toxic gases can make you drowsy, disoriented and short of breath. The odorless, colorless fumes can lull you into a deep sleep before the flames reach your door.

Fire Safety Tips in the event of a fire. Remember time is the biggest enemy and every second counts! Escape first, then call for help. Develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside. Make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room. Practice feeling your way out with your eyes closed. Never stand up in a fire, always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. Never return to a burning building for any reason, it may cost you your life. And remember to practice a home escape plan frequently with your family.

Volunteer Firefighters

At this very moment, in thousands of communities across the country, from Alaska to the Florida Keys, from the suburbs of the great northeastern cities to farming communities in the heartland of America, am army of volunteers stands ready to respond. At the sound of the siren’s wail or the urgent tones of a pager, ordinary men and women immediately set aside whatever they are doing, shift out of the routine of daily life, and become the protector of their local communities. They are part of America’s great traditions. They are volunteer firefighters.

These people assume the role of first responders to a range of emergencies that threaten lives and property, routinely risking their lives to protect others, whether they are friends and neighbors or total strangers. These volunteers are motivated by a sense of duty, tradition, and pride to train and prepare themselves and to make themselves available to respond whenever they are called upon, accepting the risks and finding their reward in the simple satisfaction of performing an essential and critical service for their communities.

If you are interested in helping protect your community and would like to be part of a team steeped in over 180 years of tradition, we encourage you to join us. We meet every Monday of the month at our station on Market Street. We challenge you to volunteer and
to help make a difference.

—John Grosskopf,
Fire Chief, Beaver VFD

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