The Southern Stone County Fire Protection District is starting a new holiday tradition this year, one they hope will remind area residents to practice good fire safety this Christmas season.
On Dec. 2, a large green wreath adorned with 50 bright red Christmas lights was hung on the front of the SSCFPD Station No. 1. Public Information Officer Eric Nielsen said they hope to use the Red Wreath Campaign to promote awareness of the fire potential that comes with the holiday season.
“The winter months and the holiday season is the busiest time of year for structure fires/home fires that are caused by heating, extension cords and various things that people might just overlook,” Nielsen said.
“We have all the red lights on the wreath and then for every structure fire we have, one light out of that wreath will be replaced with a white light. The white light will represent that there was a house fire. It will be a visual reminder to people that there was a fire that could have possibly been prevented, because most fires can be prevented.”
Nielsen said that many departments across the nation have similar types of programs, if not the same one. Regardless, the department hopes this visual reminder will better help their community members to have a safe and enjoyable holiday season.
Nielsen said, as part of this campaign, they also want people to remember some important fire safety tips as they celebrate the holidays with their families.
“Folks that do have live trees should definitely make sure that they stay watered so they don’t dry out. If they do have the live trees make sure that the decorations are not ran with extension cords or make sure they’re operated by the manufactures (amp) suggestion so you don’t have shorts or an electrical fire that will cause a tree to ignite,” said Nielsen. “That also goes for any outdoor electrical devices, meaning Christmas decorations. You don’t want to overload circuits.”
Additional tips include not leaving a stove top unattended or leaving something flammable on the stove. Don’t fry a turkey if its frozen or on a wood deck, garage or close to a roof overhang.
“Candles,” Nielsen said. “A lot of people like to have candles this time of year. We discourage the use of candles when you’re not going to be home, obviously, or you might leave and forget you left the candle lit, and that’s also a big cause for accidental fires.”
Nielsen added that the department would also encourage people to have their chimneys cleaned before starting a fire this season, keep a protective screen in front of the fireplace’s fire box and have plenty of working smoke detectors in the home.
As of press time, two of the 50 red bulbs had been replaced with white bulbs following back-to-back fires on Dec. 8 off of Pioneer Point Road in Galena.
The Red Wreath Campaign will run now through Dec. 31. Visit sscfpd.org.