Fire officials issue alert to homeowners: Have two ways out!

By Ashley Mackin

At the Fire Station 13 Open House, held in honor of Fire Prevention Week on Oct. 11, Captain Rob Lange wanted to make one point clear: in the event of a fire, know two ways out.

“What we want the public to know is, when you’re in a building, when you’re in a house, when you’re in a structure, the way you came in is not necessarily the way you’ll go out in a disaster or a fire situation,” Lange said. “If there’s a fire near where you came in, you’ll need a second way out.”

He said a second exit would ideally be a door, but to remember it could be a window. To illustrate this point for children, the Fire Department used the Fire Safety Trailer, a mock two- story house for kids to explore.

Fire Captain Lee Maestas led children through the trailer, asking questions and putting them through exercises. He taught 5-year-old Stella Snyder to crawl close to the ground to avoid smoke inhalation, and to get away from the fire and start yelling for help. He said an important thing for children to remember is to not hide. “Get out and stay out,” he said.

He also gave her the “homework” of testing the smoke detectors at home. Lange said that’s another point the Fire Department wants to emphasize.

“It’s time to check your smoke detector and change the batteries,” he said. As a reminder, he said, “When you change your clocks (for the end of daylight savings time Nov. 4) change your smoke detector batteries.” With planning the key, Lange said it’s also important to have a predetermined meeting place in the event of a fire or evacuation, and to have an emergency supply kit with enough food and water to last several days.

In La Jolla, the geography lends itself to fire spreading. “La Jolla has its challenges with fire protection,” Lange said. “We have some pretty steep canyons, we have thick brush, and those have the potential to become wildfires in the canyons and Mount Soledad.”

His suggestion is to pay attention to brush and make sure it gets cleared when nec- essary. This is both to mini- mize fire spread and to keep open access for firefighters.

Check the Web

■ San Diego Fire and Rescue (SDFR) officers say several times a day, every day; someone hears a siren or sees fire engines and calls 9-1-1 to ask what’s going on. To deter this behavior, SDFR launched a website to let the public see the emergencies to which the Department is responding.■

lists every call and the units responding to it, and is updated every five minutes.

■ “We ask people to refer to this website for answers to questions about incidents,” said Fire Communications Director Susan Infantino. “It’s vitally important that the 9-1-1 lines be kept open for emergencies. It is literally a matter of life and death. Answering questions from curious callers not only delays them from doing the important job of emergency dispatch, it clogs the phone lines and could delay a legitimate 9-1-1 call from getting through.”