By Mark Squibb
October 13, 2023 Edition
Saturday marks the end of Fire Prevention Week in Canada, but getting out the message about the importance of safety awareness is a year-long gig for Carbonear Fire Chief Adam Earle and his counterparts across the country.
This year’s theme was ‘Cooking safety starts with you’ and Earle said there’s plenty people can do to stay safe in the kitchen.
Never leave pots unattended, he advised, and be wary of cooking with fats and grease. Earle also cautioned against plugging too many powerful kitchen appliances into an outlet and overloading the circuit.
Parents, said Earle, should also talk with their children about what to do in case of a fire, and plan an escape route and muster point. He recommends testing smoke detectors while kids are at home, so that they learn to recognize the sound, and to check the expiration dates on the smoke detectors as well.
Closing bedroom doors at night, added Earle, also prevents the spread of fires in a home and could save lives.
Earle also recommended that everyone make sure they have an easily identifiable civic number on their home.
“We have a big problem because not everyone has a civic number that can be easily identifiable on their house,” said Earle. “Sometimes, especially at night, we get a call, and we have to drive up-and-down the road, looking at civic addresses and then trying to pinpoint where we’re supposed to go. Maybe it’s this one, maybe it’s that one, or maybe it’s that one over there.”
Earle said that even in the case of a house fire, smoke and fire are not always visible from the street, and police and paramedics also use civic numbers to identify homes in emergencies.
“Every minute counts in an emergency situation,” said Earle. “And we don’t need to be driving up and down the road trying to find the right address.”
Earle said some people have dark civic numbers atop dark panelling, which makes them next to impossible to see.
“I know if you’ve just renovated your house or built a new house, you might not want to put a bright number on your house because it might be ugly looking, but that ugly looking number could save your life,” said the chief.
On Wednesday, the department hosted an open house at the Fire Hall, and members also visited schools to share the message about fire prevention.
The department also had a new member join Wednesday evening, bringing the brigade to 40 volunteers. The department caps membership at 40 to match the 40 sets of turn-out gear the department owns.
“Every time we put out for new members, there’s always a lot of interest,” said Earle. “Just this last time, we received six applications and we only needed one member.”
The department acts as a sort of ‘Johnny-on-the-spot’ for any number of emergency situations, ranging from fires to car accidents to medical calls.
Just last week, the department responded to a call regarding a tandem axle truck that had overturned, spilling a load of asphalt, after striking a utility pole. The pole was cracked entirely in half, and crews from H&B Construction and Newfoundland Power were called in to replace both pole and wires.
When asked, Earle said he was glad that two buildings on Water Street that were ravished by fire over the 2022 Easter Weekend have recently been demolished.
“It’s great to see them gone,” he said, noting the collapse of the decrepit structures during a storm was a real possibility.
The buildings posed a fire hazard, he added, and while condemned, may have become home to squatters.
“So, if it happened to catch fire again, you wouldn’t have known if there was anybody in there,” said Earle. “There’s not supposed to be anyone in there, but you wouldn’t really be sure, and they weren’t fit to go in to look for anybody because of the structural weakness of the buildings.”
Earlier this fall, the department hosted its annual Firefighters Ball, which was well attended. A number of service medals were presented during the evening. Former chief and honorary fire fighter Ron Garland was awarded a 35 Year Service Medal. Mayor Frank Butt and Ed Kavanagh were also presented with 35 Year Service Medals. Richard Rossiter, meanwhile, was presented with a 35 Year Service Medal earlier in the year, as he did not know if he would be able to attend the ball. Glenn Trickett was presented with a 30 Year Service Medal, while Jeff Squibb was presented with a 25 Year Service Medal. Second Assistant Chief Scott Mullins was presented with a 20 Year Service Medal, Dennis Ash was presented with a 15 Year Service Medal, and Darren Hedd and Nick Rossiter were presented with 10 Year Service Medals.
High school student Emily Ash, meanwhile, was awarded two prizes by the department — the Clifford Pike Memorial Scholarship for Highest Average in Level III Literature and The Fred Chubbs Memorial Scholarship for the Highest Overall Average in Level III.