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Col. Michael Greenberg, Fort Belvoir Garrison commander, signs the Fire Prevention Week proclamation at Fire Station 465 as Fire Chief Shane Crutcher looks on, Sept. 30. Fire Prevention Week, observed since 1922, is on record as the longest running public safety observance.

Fort Belvoir Garrison and Fire and Emergency Services leaders observed Fire Prevention Week, this week, by signing a proclamation and thanking firefighters for all the hard work they do every day to help keep the Belvoir community safe.

The National Fire Protection Association started Fire Prevention Week in 1922, which is observed each year during the week of Oct. 9, in commemoration of the Great Chicago Fire. The fire killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless. That week changed the way firefighters and public officials thought about fire safety.

Fire prevention has come a long way since then, with the advent of smoke and gas detectors, sprinkler systems in all commercial buildings, and proactive departments. For instance, Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services is spending this month voluntarily inspecting every home on the installation to minimize the risk of fire, and briefly educate residents on important practices in the home and kitchen. Annual fire safety inspections are underway on Belvoir and residents can sign up for an inspection on the housing portal.

One of the most common issues Belvoir firefighters are discovering are dryer vent problems. If clothes dryer ventilation systems get clogged with lint, it can overheat the element and spark a fire. Clothes taking longer to dry is often an indicator the vent is clogged.

The speed that a house fire spreads can be startling, and there can be as little as two minutes to escape, which is why it’s important for every family to have a written fire escape plan. The plan should have two exits from every room, and be practiced twice a year – in daylight and in dark – and have everyone meet at a nearby tree or sign.

But fires don’t just threaten homes. Shane Crutcher, Belvoir fire chief, said whether at work, out shopping or dining, know where your exits are.

“Situational awareness is a skill people need to use wherever they go,” Crutcher said. “No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately.”

Fort Belvoir Fire and Emergency Services can be contacted at 703-805-2091.

For information about home escape planning, visit www.fpw.org.

Fire Prevention events:

Fire Extinguisher Training

Exchange Parking Lot

Today, 9:30 – 11 a.m.

Fire Prevention Open House

South Post Fire Station

Saturday, 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.