Fire Marshal urges families to practice fire drills


When fire breaks out, every second counts – especially when it comes to escaping safely. That’s why the Rhode Island Division of State Fire Marshal is encouraging all Rhode Islanders to practice fire drills at home, school and work as part of this year’s national Fire Prevention Week (October 8 to 14). 

In fact, Acting State Fire Marshal James Gumbley notes that next Saturday, October 14, is national Home Fire Drill Day – a good day for everyone to practice fire drills at their home. 

“Schools and businesses routinely conduct fire drills, but it’s important for families to practice fire drills, too,” Marshal Gumbley said. “All family members should discuss and practice what to do and where to go so they are able to respond quickly in the event of a fire or other dangers warrant escaping.” 

It’s also important to identify at least two options for escape in case one exit route is blocked or too dangerous to use, Marshal Gumbley said, noting that the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is: Every Second Counts: Plan Two Ways Out. 

The National Fire Protection Association estimates that house fires occur every 86 seconds in the United States. That’s why families need to be ready, in case it happens to them.

Marshal Gumbley offers the following tips for helping your family escape:

Draw a map of each floor of your home, showing all rooms. Identify at least two ways to exit each room, including windows and doors. Make sure windows and doors can be unlocked and/or opened from inside.

Identify a safe path to outside from each room in the house. Designate an outside meeting place, preferably, in front of your home, but away from the building.

Practice your fire escape plan, at least once a year but twice is better, during the day and at night, focusing especially on what to do if fire breaks out while everyone is asleep.

Makes plans for helping those who need assistance, but also teach children how to escape on their own in case you are unable to help them.

Close doors as you leave the house, which can help slow the spread of fire, smoke and heat.

Once outside NEVER go back inside the building.

Marshal Gumbley also said it’s important to have properly working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms. Check them monthly to make sure they are working. It’s also wise to have a fire extinguisher in your home. In addition, make sure the number of your home is clearly marked to make it easy for firefighters and other first responders to find. 

“It’s important that everyone in your family knows what to do in the event of an emergency, which is why we encourage families to practice fire drills – not only this week, but throughout the year,” Marshal Gumbley said. “By having and practicing your fire escape plan, your family will be better prepared in the event of an actual emergency.”


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