Since the Great Chicago Fire in 1871, the week of October 6-12 has been recognized as Fire Prevention Week by fire departments across the nation. In Ottumwa, the OFD acknowledges the week by making trips to schools and giving tours of the fire station to kids, teaching them fire safety.
With the city's 35th structure fire of the year occurring Wednesday night, Fire Chief Tony Miller said this week is also a good reminder for adults. Just last month, the OFD teamed up with the American Red Cross to install fire alarms in homes without one and firefighters will always come in to replace your batteries or fix your alarm at no charge.
"The fires we've had this year, we really can't pinpoint one certain cause because we've had every different thing under the moon," Chief Miller said. "Just be fire safe, make sure your alarms are working because most people think that when you have a structure fire, the smoke is going to wake you up, when in reality, that's the complete opposite - it'll put you in a deeper sleep. That's why we hit smoke alarms so hard is because it's the first line of defense when you have a fire."
Miller said the department stresses for homeowners to check their smoke detector's batteries twice a year. A good way to remember is to check the batteries when you reset your clocks in the spring and winter.
Homeowners should also get their furnace checked yearly, as well as be particularly cautious of kitchen fires. Ottumwa's firefighters emphasize to stay in the kitchen when cooking, frying, grilling or broiling, and if you must leave, turn off the stove. Use the backburners as much as possible if there are children in the home and keep anything that can burn away from the stovetops.