September 13, 2013 11:39:00 AM
Slim Smith - [email protected]
The approach of fall means different things to different people.
To Martin Andrews, it means the busiest time of the year.
Andrews, assistant chief for the Columbus Fire Department, says the fall means the beginning of the CFD's code inspections, which he calls a tremendous time commitment that is added to the normal duties associated with his department.
"We're coming up on our busiest time of the year," Andrews said during Thursday's Exchange Club of Columbus meeting at Lion Hills Golf Club. "We're not only starting out code inspections, but October is also Fire Prevention Month. During that month, our fire education director, Carole Summerall, will be going out to all of our elementary schools, teaching the kids about fire prevention and safety. That's anywhere from 4,000 to 5,000 kids, kindergarten through fifth grade."
Andrews said the importance of teaching fire safety to children is of great value in two distinct ways.
"One thing is, we hope, that the kids will be able to take some of the information we have given them home to share it with their families," Andrews said. "We want to give them basic, simple information that they can share at home."
Beyond that, Andrews said, with school in sessions, there are many children who become "latch-key kids," who are at home along after school.
"A lot of the kids whose parents may be still at work, are at home by themselves," Andrews noted. "You know how it is with kids who are 10 or 12. Sometimes, they think they can do what their parents do. It's not unusual at all for a kid to decide he wants to cook and all the sudden there's a grease fire. Or maybe, the child is ironing and burns himself. So it's important for the kids to know first, that they shouldn't be doing those things and, then, what to do if there is a fire."
Education is just one of the many functions CFD personnel perform, Andrews said.
"It's a lot different than when I started at the Columbus Fire Department 26 years ago," he said. "Now, we're not just firefighters. We're also EMTs and, in some situations, we even serve as law enforcement, which is something I would never have imagined we would be doing when I first got started."
Today, the Exchange Club will hold serve lunch to the First Responders of Lowndes County as they are recognized on "Salute to Lowndes County's Finest" Day at the Trotter Center, beginning at 11 a.m.
Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]