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East Grand Forks Fire Department holds open house to kick off the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week

Fire Prevention Week will take place Oct. 9-15.

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Nick Derrick, an East Grand Forks firefighter, hands out fire helmets to children during the East Grand Forks Fire Department's open house Monday, Oct. 3, 2022.
Sav Kelly
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EAST GRAND FORKS – The East Grand Forks Fire Department usually extinguishes fires. Monday evening, members of the department intentionally sparked a few small blazes, and were met with cheers.

The department’s open house marked the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week.

“We get a chance to show people what we do,” said Fire Chief Jeff Bouschee.

He said the department’s events usually have a good turnout, and Monday’s open house was no different. They are a good opportunity to “connect with our citizens” and “promote fire safety,” Bouschee said.

The open house included activities for children, tours of firefighters’ living quarters, informational handouts, refreshments and a few demonstrations. The demonstrations included the proper way to put out a grease fire, how to use a fire extinguisher and an “auto-extraction” during which firefighters pulled car doors from a vehicle – something they may have do in an emergency situation.

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The tagline for this year’s Fire Prevention Week, which actually is next week, Oct. 9-15, is “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.” The department encourages residents to plan and practice their home fire escape. Every family’s plan will look different, according to a press release distributed by the department, and it is essential to consider any differences in ability among household members.

Throughout Fire Prevention Week, the department plans to host East Grand Forks elementary school students, providing them with tours and the opportunity to take pictures. They will also go over fire safety, escape plans and the use of smoke detectors.

The visits also allow the children to see firefighters up close, and in typical firefighting gear.

“We show them what we look like dressed up, so they’re not scared of us,” said Nick Derrick, a firefighter at the EGFFD.

The department also offers to assist businesses with training employees in fire safety.

According to Bouschee, the department is a combination of full-time and part-time employees. There are 10 full-timers, including the chief, and 25 paid part-time firefighters.

Stressing fire safety really is the goal of Fire Prevention Week, according to the department’s press release.

According to the release, it is recommended for a smoke alarm to be inside and outside each bedroom, as well as on every level of the home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so they all go off if one detects smoke. Residents are advised to know at least two ways to escape any room within their home, and to make sure all doors and windows are easily opened. Families should have an outside meeting place a safe distance from the home. The EGFFD recommends practicing home fire drills at least twice a year — once during the day and once at night.

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