Fire Extinguishers Save Lives and Property

Arcata Fire Protection District

ARCATA, CA -- The Arcata Fire Protection District is an all-risk public safety entity providing fire, rescue, and EMS services to a population of 35,000 residents for the city of Arcata, the communities of McKinleyville, Bayside, Manilia and other surrounding rural areas.

The district consists of industrial, commercial, residential, agricultural, beaches and wildland areas for a total service area of 63 square miles on the remote coast of Northern California. The geographical dispersal and makeup of the communities makes the provision of fire safety and EMS challenging. Driving time to a scene can range from less than a minute to over 12 minutes for the first arriving apparatus. Therefore, it is important for the residents to know how to be "Safe at Home."

The fire deaths that the fire district has suffered in recent years mirrors the high-risk groups identified by the U.S. Fire Administration as being particularly vulnerable to fire, i.e., senior citizens, and children under the age of 14. Although the fire district had been doing fire safety education and outreach, they felt they needed do something more to effectively reach these high-risk groups.

Arcata FPD received a 2005 Fire Prevention and Safety Grant to conduct fire safety education programs. They established an ongoing comprehensive injury prevention/fire safety education program in the public school system, senior citizen organizations, and the community.

They acquired a Hazard House, which was used with numerous groups of elementary school students and senior citizens. An added benefit was that the Hazard House was used in neighboring district, for which they provide Automatic Aid.

In addition, they felt that conducting fire prevention and safety inspections to ensure smoke detectors, fire alarms and extinguishers were installed, or existed in a proper location, and were functioning, specifically for all multi-unit residences.

Personnel made inspections at 3,214 individual living units. Residents were very supportive and positive about the inspection program. The inspectors also followed up to make sure corrections were made, sending letters to owners or management companies to document the inspections and corrections. Compliance was overwhelmingly successful.

On April 6, 2007, a fire occurred in a two-story, wood-frame fourplex. Fire was discovered by a neighbor who noticed smoke coming from the patio door of the apartment. The tenant had put food on to cook and left the home, leaving the stove unattended. The neighbor reacted promptly, utilizing the new dry chemical extinguisher that was placed near an exterior door through the grant program, to knock down the fire on the stove.

Fire personnel were able to go in upon arrival and complete extinguishing the fire. The kitchen was severely damaged with cabinets burned and sheetrock scorched. In addition, there was significant smoke damage throughout the living quarters. However, the fire was confined to the one bedroom apartment.

Without the inspections and training of residents, the property could have been a total loss. Not only that, but residents were present in the two upstairs apartments. Lives and property were saved. The extinguisher was in place as a direct result of the grant-funded inspection conducted 4 months prior to the incident.

What They Bought With The Grant:

  • Fire Prevention & Safety Education Program
  • Fire Prevention & Safety Inspections
  • Hazard House
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