WILLIAMSON — It’s Fire Prevention Month within the city of Williamson and Fire Chief Jerry Mounts is dedicated to making sure everyone is aware of how to protect themselves.
Mounts spoke with the Daily News on how citizens could keep themselves safe from fires.
“The simplest thing you could do would be to change the batteries in your smoke detector,” Mounts said. “Or even buying one. It’s a tool for as little as $5 that has proven time and time again to save lives.”
He said that more expensive smoke detectors could be programed to go off together when one detected smoke. As an example, Mounts said that if a fire was detected in the basement of a three-story building and a fire began there, it would take a long time for smoke to reach a smoke detector on the third floor. But with a smoke detector on each floor, the moment the smoke detector goes off in the basement, each smoke detector in the house would go off, giving a family ample time to escape.
He also said suggested buying a fire extinguisher, but was aware that many people live paycheck to paycheck and may have trouble affording it. For under $20, he said you could get a very effective one.
“I’ve been at the Williamson Fire Department for 37 years and I’ve seen a number of houses saved because the homeowners had fire extinguishers and knew how to use them.”
To sum it up, Mounts said:
“Smoke detectors save lives, fire extinguishers save property.”
The Williamson City Council proclaimed the month at its most recent meeting. The theme is “Have two ways to get out,” and Mounts stressed the importance of it.
“Everyone should have two ways to get out,” he said. “One out the front of the house, one out the back.”
He said that his family personally had a rope ladder in their second-floor bedroom so that in case of a fire, a person in that room could escape.
“I would suggest everyone look into the feasibility of getting one.”
Mounts also said that hoarding and storing a large amount of items was a significant threat when it came to fires, especially if they were combustible. Those items enhance the spread of the fire and prevent firefighters from performing search and rescue techniques.
And, since it’s now the season where people clear their hillsides and yards, the chief said that it was illegal to burn anything besides vegetative debris during the burning hours of 7 a.m. until 5 p.m. Prior to burning, Mounts said that would-be burners must call their nearest fire department so that they could be aware. A 10-foot clearing circle and necessary tools and equipment are required for each burn in case it were to jump. If a fire department is called to battle an out-of-control fire like that, the person who started it could be fined a minimum of $500, Mounts said.
“It’s so easy to fall into the false sense of security, saying how that stuff would never happen to you,” Mounts said. “But look around you. Everyone knows someone who was either directly or indirectly affected by a fire.”
The chief finished his tips for preventing fires by saying that his firefighters would help in any way they could.
“They take pride in fire safety education.
“They’re more than willing to help people be better prepared,” Mounts said. “At any time, but particularly this month, anyone can tour the fire department or if they would like us to come speak with them, like at a school, they are free to call us.”
He also said that if anyone needed tips on how to correctly work a fire extinguisher, install a smoke detector or even change the batteries in one, his firefighters would go to their house to help, on the condition that they reside within the WFD’s fire district.
Contact the WFD at 304-235-5273.