Andrea Rondeau column: This week is a chance to say thank you to our firefighters

Many of these volunteers do more than just fight fires.

Fire Prevention Week starts on Friday.

I know, I know. It seems like everything has its own week, month, or at least day. What’s so special about this one? You don’t even get to talk like a pirate, or wear a particular colour.

Of all of the occasions we acknowledge as a community and as a newspaper, I always think this is one of the most important. Not only is this our chance to say thank you to our incredibly hardworking volunteer firefighters, but it’s also a good time to figure out our own fire plan.

On the first point, we cannot say enough about how exceptional our community firefighters are in the Cowichan Valley. They spend countless hours practicing and keeping in shape, keeping the equipment spit-shined, and just generally making sure they are at the ready for when the siren on the firehall sounds. And sound it does, as anyone who lives near a firehall can attest. At all hours of the day and night, these quiet heroes head to the hall at the call of duty, never knowing what they might be stepping into.

Many of these volunteers do more than just fight fires. They are first responders to crash sites, and are called out to provide medical aid. When my father was having a heart attack and we called 911 for help, a fire truck was the first to arrive at our driveway, with firefighters ready to assess and monitor my dad until the ambulance personnel got there. Fortunately he is now well, but it’s comforting to know that help from the fire department is just minutes away, even if what we need is medical aid rather than fire fighting.

These men and women deserved to be celebrated, at least once a year.

The other important part of Fire Prevention Week is that it’s a reminder. Change out your smoke alarm batteries. Check your fire extinguishers, and carbon monoxide monitors, if you have them. Are all of the entries and exits to your house useable, or have you piled junk in front of a door or window that should be moved? And, critically, do you have a plan for what you will do in case of a fire? Does your entire family know the plan and have the same plan? Now is the time to think about these things, not when you’re running for the door with a cloth over your nose to keep from breathing in the smoke. Everyone in your house needs to know how to get out. They need to know where you’re going to meet after exiting the building.

For that matter, do you know what the fire plan is at your workplace? Something else to think about.

At some point this week, take a few minutes and give yourself a refresher. After all, it can’t hurt, can it?

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