MFPD sets events for Fire Prevention Week

Open house slated Saturday at district’s No. 5 firehouse

By Staff Report

The Mehlville Fire Protection District will sponsor an open house Saturday, Oct. 10, in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week.

Fire Prevention Week will take place from Sunday, Oct. 4, through Saturday, Oct. 10. This year’s theme is “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm,” according to Capt. Kevin Reis, the district’s public education officer.

Mehlville’s open house for Fire Prevention Week will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Engine House No. 5, 11020 Mueller Road.

Mehlville firefighters have a variety of activities planned throughout the week and at the open house, Reis said.

“During Fire Prevention Week, every night all seven of our engine houses — one engine house per night — will be going with Domino’s to deliver pizzas,” he said. “They’ll probably do two to four deliveries, depending on how busy they are and things like that … (When) we show up, we test the smoke detectors, because if their smoke detectors work, they get their pizza for free.”

In addition, firefighters will perform fire drills throughout the week at some local schools, according to Reis.

During those school visits, smoke detectors are going to be the main focus of conversation.

“In the event of a fire, a smoke detector can save your life and those of your loved ones,” Reis said. “They are the singlemost important means of preventing house and apartment fire fatalities by providing an early warning signal.”

Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of a home, including the basement, according to Reis. Because many fatal fires begin late at night or early in the morning, smoke detectors should be installed both inside and outside sleeping areas, he added.

Furthermore, smoke detectors should be replaced roughly every 10 years — a manufacturing date is listed on the back of the detector, the captain said.

“The batteries should be changed in the detectors at least twice a year,” Reis said. “Testing your detectors once a month can ensure proper working condition of your detectors.”

The safety tips are the same for hard-wired smoke detectors, he said, adding that when checking hard-wired detectors, ensure a battery backup is included.

At the open house, visitors will be able to meet firefighters and paramedics, learn how to use a fire extinguisher and have their photo taken on a fire truck or an ambulance.

Child safety seat installation and checks will be provided, along with blood pressure checks.

Fire Prevention Week has a rich history, according to Reis, who noted that the 40th anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire prompted the Fire Marshals’ Association of North America to proclaim the first Fire Prevention Day. Fire-awareness programs and parades took place through America.

In 1925, President Calvin Coolidge de-clared Fire Prevention Week an official national observance. Since that year, the Sunday through Saturday period including Oct. 9 — the anniversary of the Chicago Fire ­— has been the focus of an annual fire-safety awareness campaign sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association.

The beginning of the Mehlville Fire Protection District dates back to five years after Coolidge’s declaration, when the Mehlville Improvement Association was established.

A 1925 Ford farm truck was converted into a fire truck and stationed at Manley’s Auto Repair Shop at the intersection of Lindbergh Boulevard and Lemay Ferry Road.

A fundraising campaign in 1936 generated enough revenue to purchase a 1919 American LaFrance fire truck from the St. Louis Fire Department.

The Mehlville Fire Protection District was formally established in 1953, and voters approved a bond issue in 1957 to construct three firehouses and purchase two new fire trucks. Seventeen firefighters were hired.

Today, the Mehlville Fire Protection District has seven firehouses and roughly 117 employees who answer nearly 14,000 calls per year. The district provides service to residents, commuters and visitors within a 52-square-mile area.