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CFO Sink Urges Floridians to Focus on Safety during Fire Prevention Week, October 7-13

10/2/2007

CONTACT: Nina Banister
(850) 413-2842
 
TALLAHASSEE— Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink, who also serves as Florida’s State Fire Marshal, is urging Floridians to take steps to protect themselves and their families from fire and to learn more about fire safety during Fire Prevention Week, which begins on Sunday, October 7, and continues through October 13.
 
The Division of State Fire Marshal, Bureau of Fire Prevention, will host a variety of activities throughout the week to draw attention to Fire Prevention Week, which the Governor and Cabinet designated today following a resolution presented by CFO Sink.  A schedule of activities and the resolution are available at
www.MyFloridaCFO.com.  As part of the week’s activities, the annual Fallen Firefighter Memorial Service will be held on Friday, October 12, at the Florida State Fire College in Ocala to commemorate 137 firefighters who over the years have died in the line of duty in Florida.
 
In presenting the Fire Prevention Week resolution, CFO Sink commended the fire and rescue services for having no line-of-duty firefighter deaths reported last year.  But she lamented the deaths of 183 Floridians and injuries to more than 1,600, including 832 firefighters, in fire-related incidents – the majority occurring in homes.  CFO Sink said she is concerned that of the more than 24,700 Florida structures involved in fires last year, fewer than 40 percent had smoke detectors, and just over half of those were working.
 
“Few Floridians would think about going without insurance, yet too many do not make sure they have the protection of a smoke alarm,” CFO Sink said.   “The cost of a smoke alarm is minimal, but the loss of a life is immeasurable.”
 
She said beyond having working smoke alarms, practicing a fire escape plan is important to make sure your family knows what to do in the event of a fire.
 
The leading cause of home fires in Florida last year was cooking, followed by arson, appliances and heaters, open flames from items such as candles, and smoking.   While most fires occur in the kitchen, more lethal fires occurred in the bedroom.  Fires in Florida last year caused more than $380 million in damage to Florida homes and property.
 
CFO Sink suggests Floridians follow these fire safety tips:
 
• Install smoke detectors on every floor and in hallways leading to bedrooms.
• Change smoke alarm batteries semi-annually, easily remembered if done when changing the clocks for daylight savings time in the spring and fall months. Test alarms regularly.
• Plan escape routes from every room and floor to an outdoor meeting place. Be sure everyone in the family knows and practices them. If necessary, install and learn to use slides or a rope ladder.
• Be sure children know their address.
• Make sure your house numbers can be easily seen from the street.
• Make sure your babysitter knows the family's fire safety rules, escape routes and meeting place.
• If you smoke, do not smoke in bed and never walk away from a lighted cigarette.
• Do not smoke if you are taking medication that makes you drowsy.
• Keep space heaters at least 3 feet away from furniture and curtains.
• Turn off space heaters before you leave the house or go to bed.
• Store paints, fuels and all ignitable liquids in a cool, locked metal cabinet. Greasy rags should be stored in a self-closing metal container. DO NOT store chemicals together that are not compatible such as pool chemicals, oils, gasoline and cleaning products. If you're not sure, call your local fire department.
• Do not use frayed electrical cords and do not overload outlets or extension cords.
• Keep ovens, broiling pans and kitchen exhaust fans clean.
• Never leave a stove unattended while it is on.
• If a fuse or circuit breaker should blow or keeps tripping, find out why and correct the problem. Always use the correct size fuse. Call an electrician.
• If a fire occurs, don't panic -- do your best to stay calm.
• Follow your escape plan.
• Leave the building and don't go back in for any reason.
• If smoke is present, drop to the floor and crawl to the nearest exit.
• Never use water to put out an electrical fire. This can cause a serious shock hazard.
• Feel the door before you exit through it. If the door is hot, leave by another exit.
 
In addition to providing public education on fire safety, the Bureau of Fire Prevention annually inspects more than 16,000 public and private buildings including public schools, university facilities and adult living facilities and enforces regulations regarding the handling of explosives materials, boiler safety and fire system installation contractors to ensure public safety. 
 
For more tips and information on fire safety, click on http://www.fldfs.com/sfm/FireSafetyIndex.htm.

As a statewide elected officer of the Florida Cabinet, Chief Financial Officer Alex Sink oversees the Department of Financial Services, a multi-division state agency responsible for management of state funds and unclaimed property, assisting consumers who request information and help related to financial services, and investigating financial fraud. CFO Sink also serves as the State Fire Marshal.