South Pigeon Lake (SPL) Fire Department has had a busy year. From new training and new equipment, to the increased duties and expectations of local fire departments by the public and government, Chief Wayne Benson says that his team has had their hands full.
“I’ve got 46 years under my belt and the changes are unbelievable,” says Benson.
Some of the changes even include the structures they are trying to save from fires. Benson says that everything from the construction framing to the chemicals in the materials used for building—it all impacts how they can respond to fires.
Benson says that people used to have a ten to 15 minute window to get out of their homes if a fire broke out, and now it is two to three minutes.
Because of these time limitations, Benson says that it is crucial for households to come up with an escape plan, and have everyone living in the home know it.
This spring many fire departments including SPL Fire dealt with bush and grass fires. Benson urges people to pay attention to their surroundings before lighting a fire of any sort, whether it be burning trash or camp fire.
Key things to look out for is the wind, the dryness of the area and any environmental factors that could cause your fire to get out of hand, such as loose foliage and leaves.
When it comes to fires in the home, and specifically the kitchen Benson says that the majority of their calls are because someone was trying to multitask while cooking.
If your kitchen should catch on fire while you are in the home, Benson says the first thing you have to do is make a very important decision. “First thing you have to decide is can I put this out or should I get out,” says Benson.
“You’ve got to make a very quick decision about that.”
For small fires Benson says that it can be handled with a lid over the pot or even using baking soda. However if it is quickly growing, you need to get out of the home as its not just the fire you have to be concerned with, but the smoke as well.
However, Benson says that the majority of house fires they respond to start not with dinner gone awry, but with some ‘do it yourself’ (DIY) home electrical work.
With a busy season, including the extensive water and ice rescue training that the department has spear headed and took part in this year, Benson would like to thank the Summer Villages for their vigilant fire safety.
He says that there has been very little calls out to the Summer Villages this year, and the few calls to those locations were mainly medical assists. SPL Fire wants to recognize their successful and diligent fire prevention practices.