Deputy Chief Kim Lawson is a 32-year veteran of the Nashville Fire Department. She currently heads the Community Services Bureau and serves as the Chief Public Information Officer and is the primary point of contact for all media inquiries and public relations/marketing for the department. Lawson’s responsibilities include public fire safety education and prevention. In May 2003, Lawson was promoted to Deputy Chief making her the first female in the history of the Nashville Fire Department to hold this rank. Lawson holds a B.S. degree in Public Safety Administration and has completed the Fire Service Executive Management Program at Owen School of Management at Vanderbilt. Additionally, she has been certified by several nationally recognized organizations as a Public Life Safety Educator, Public Information Officer and media relations professional.
Q: What is the number one cause of home fires and what can I do to prevent them?
A: The number one cause of fires in Nashville is unattended cooking. With the everyday distractions of home, it is often that food on a stove can burn out of control and damage, destroy a home and even cause death.
Those who live in a multi-family home such as a duplex or apartment must remember that it is not only their home that is at risk.
NEVER leave cooking food unattended; if you must walk away, carry a cooking utensil along so that it serves as a reminder that you are cooking.
Never throw water on a grease fire, smother it with a lid or dampened towel.
Avoid cooking in loose sleeves and clothing. Call 911 before it gets out of control, the fire department can be cancelled if not needed.
And as always, have a working smoke alarm that will notify you of a problem.
Q: What can I do to prepare my family in the event of a fire?
A: The best way to keep your family safe is to have a notification that there is a possible fire. Have a working smoke alarm on every level of the home and test the battery by pushing and holding the test button until it sounds, every month. If it doesn’t sound, replace the battery and retest. If it still doesn’t work, replace the alarm.
Change the battery every year at Daylight Savings Time. Make sure young children know the sound of the alarm and tell them to go outside when it sounds to a pre-determined meeting place.
Make sure your home is safe. If you use gas or fuel such as natural gas or propane, add a carbon monoxide detector to notify you of the existence of “the silent killer”.
Have fire places and appliances checked by professionals and for any type of electrical problem, contact an electrician. Never run extension cords under rugs or anything that can burn and avoid overloading them.
Electrical problems are the number two cause of fires in Nashville, followed by heating devices in the winter months.
Q: How do I make a fire escape plan?
A: Involve the entire family in a fire escape plan by using a diagram of your home.
Walk to each room and identify two ways out of each room.
Practice your fire drill at the first of each month. Remember to plan for the very young, elderly, and special needs family member(s).
Remind every family member to Get out and Stay out at the sound of the alarm, and call 911 from a neighbor’s.
Identify a meeting place outside, so that everyone can be accounted for.
The Nashville Fire Department will give anyone in Davidson County a free smoke alarm for their home. For more information, call 862-5282 or go by Fire Headquarters at 63 Hermitage Avenue, downtown, during normal business hours.
Q: Where should smoke alarms be installed?
A: Smoke alarms should be installed on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
A smoke alarm should be installed and maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. When installing a smoke alarm, many factors influence where you will place it, including how many are to be installed. Consider placing alarms along your escape path to assist in egress in limited visibility conditions. In general you should place alarms in the center of a ceiling or, if you place them on a wall, they should be 6 to 12 inches below the ceiling.
Install a working smoke alarm on every level of the home, outside sleeping areas, and inside bedrooms.
Replace smoke alarm batteries at least annually, such as when resetting clocks in the fall or spring.
Test all smoke alarms in your house once a month.
Do not place a smoke alarm too close to a kitchen appliance or fireplace, as this may result in nuisance alarms.
Avoid locating alarms near bathrooms, heating appliances, windows, or ceiling fans.
Replace smoke alarms that are more than 10 years old. Smoke alarms don’t last forever.
Develop and practice a fire escape plan, because working smoke alarms and a fire escape plan will increase your protection in case of a fire.
Q: How can I have a safe 4th of July?
A: The best way to enjoy fireworks is to visit public fireworks displays put on by professionals who know how to safely handle fireworks. If you plan to use fireworks, make sure they are legal in your area. It is illegal to set off fireworks in Davidson County. Never light fireworks indoors or near dry grass and always have a bucket of water and/or a fire extinguisher nearby. Know how to operate the fire extinguisher properly. Do not wear loose clothing while using fireworks. Stand several feet away from lit fireworks. If a device does not go off, do not stand over it to investigate it. Put it out with water and dispose of it. Always read the directions and warning labels on fireworks. If a device is not marked with the contents, direction and a warning label, do not light it. Supervise children around fireworks at all times.
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