The winter season brings with it new fire dangers. More than one-third of home fires occur during the months of December, January, and February, largely due to an increased use of heating systems, cooking, and holiday decorations. Fortunately, most fires are preventable.
In an effort to promote fire safety and to educate the community on fire safety tips during this dangerous time of year, Marshfield Fire & Rescue, along with other departments in Wood County, participate in the “Keep the Wreath Green” campaign.
“This awareness campaign is something we have participated in since its inception,” said Marshfield Fire & Rescue Chief Scott Owen. “It is a national program that is organized locally through the Wood County Fire Chief’s Association and the goal of the program is to bring fire safety awareness to our citizens.”
At the beginning of the campaign on Thanksgiving, a Christmas wreath with green lights is hung outside of Marshfield Fire & Rescue. Each time there is a structure fire incident in Wood County, a red light will replace a green light on the wreath.
Owen said the program is a good reminder for people during the busy holiday season.
“It brings discussion, it brings awareness,” he said. “If I think back to the charts that we have, there are years where we had 12-15 fires. We’ve seen a decrease over the years, but again it fluctuates. Two years ago, I don’t think Marshfield had a fire during that period. Last year we had two. I hope that people know what it’s about and understand it and take it seriously, which I think they do.”
The wreath also features one non-green light that has a deeper meaning- one white light bulb on top of the wreath to honor and remember the fallen firefighters, including Marshfield’s own fallen firefighter, Lt. Marvin (Marv) Strohman, who died in the line of duty on January 4, 1981. The goal is to have all green lights remaining by the end of the year.
“We hope the program reminds people to take the extra step to remember fire safety this holiday season,” said Owen. “In addition to the wreath, departments will promote fire safety throughout the holidays and to share fire safety tips on various social media accounts and websites.
There are several ways to practice fire safety during the holidays. These include:
-Monitor candle usage, and remember to blow them out when leaving or going to sleep
-Be alert when cooking and baking.
-Keep open flames away from combustible materials (wood and paper)
-Limit the use of extension cords (try not to overload electrical outlets and use power strips with surge protection in place of extension cords).
-If you have a real Christmas tree, keep it watered so that it doesn’t become too dry.
“We ‘Clark Griswold’ our houses and sometimes fire safety takes a back seat because we need to get this plugin plugged in way over there,” said Owen. “We plug cord into cord into cord – we run cords everywhere and all of these lights. That’s not safe.
“If you have fresh trees and you don’t keep them watered properly, it takes one little spark for it to go,” he added. “Keep in mind, too, that Christmas trees that are on the lot right now have probably been on the lot for a month now, sitting dormant with no water. When you do get your tree, you should cut at least an inch off the bottom, stick it in a bucket of water for a day so it can suck up that water before you even bring it into the home to decorate. After maybe two days, put it in the house. The reality is…that never happens. People cut it down and take it home and decorate it right away because of the excitement of this time of year.”
Owen hopes everyone follows these important holiday tips and helps “Keep the Wreath Green” this season.
“The best thing that could happen this year is zero fires,” he said. “That would be awesome. I don’t think that’s ever happened.”
The 1st red bulb of the season went on the wreath this week. Nekoosa Fire Department responded to basement fire on 12-1-2018 at 953 Chak Ha Chee Lane at the Ho-Chunk Nation. The fire was contained to the basement and no injuries were reported. Assistance was provided by Nekoosa Ambulance, Port Edwards Fire and Wood County Sheriff Department. Damage estimates and cause are not yet available.