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It's Fire Prevention Week in Grand Cities, elsewhere

One week out of every year, fire stations throughout the United States focus on fire prevention.

That week is upon us, and representatives of the Grand Forks Fire Station will be in the community all week to educate the public on preventative measures.

This year's theme is "Protect your family from fire," and as always, the department will be at schools trying to instill good habits in young students.

The department brings family into the equation by asking students to work with their parents to design a home fire escape plan. Another point of emphasis is smoke alarm maintenance -- replacing batteries when necessary.

"Absolutely, we start with kids preschool-age and follow them up to third grade," Grand Forks Fire Marshal Brandon Boespflug said. "They'll have direct interaction with us each of those years. It's a skill that needs to be reinforced and constantly practiced."

Battalion Chief Kelli Flermoen said practice makes perfect when it comes to fire prevention.

"Firefighters train every day, so it becomes a habit," she said. "It's the same with children. They're sponges, and they take in all this information. With the home escape plan, we're educating the whole family."

Departments nationwide stress to change batteries when you change clocks, and with daylight saving time about to end, the Grand Forks department wants to remind citizens to replace batteries .

The prevention education is not limited to youth. College-age adults are also a target audience during Fire Prevention Week. He said smoking and candles are two potential fire pitfalls for college students.

"It's more of a refresher course," he said. "There can be some complacency."

The department also targets senior citizens, giving a fire prevention refresher and also talking about other emergency procedures they may encounter. Topics foe seniors include how to respond in the case of a serious fall and dryer safety among other things.

"The points are the same, but the method of delivery is different," he said. "We have target audiences, but our focus is on the whole community."

Boespflug said it's a good feeling to arrive on a fire scene and see education has paid off.

"It's a very comfortable feeling when we see that things are done right," he said. "It's a dissatisfying feeling when we know that a fire incident could have been prevented."