Three Events Planned in Storm Lake During Fire Safety Week ; Fire Chief Shares Safety Tips

The Storm Lake Fire Department will be visiting multiple locations during Fire Safety Week, October 9th through the 15th, to share information on home safety measures.

The Storm Lake FD will be at Walmart on Monday October 10th from 4 to 6pm in the front entry area. The public will be able to pick up information and learn about prevention techniques they can use at their home or property.

The department will attend the Storm Lake Farmers’ Market on Thursday October 13th from 4 to 6pm with a fire truck.

On Friday the 14th, they will be at Marcus Lumber in Storm Lake from 2 to 4pm. At the Marcus Lumber event, firefighters will light a burn pan to demonstrate how to properly use a home fire extinguisher.

The fire department will be handing out a limited supply of smoke detectors to those who are in need during all of the events, which is made possible by generous donations from local businesses.

All week, the SLFD will be sharing helpful information on its Facebook page, as well as daily posts exploring the department’s firefighting rigs and introducing some of the Storm Lake firefighters.

Storm Lake Fire Chief Glenn Schlesser, who came to the department early this year, hopes to share as much prevention information as possible with the community.

“Outreach has been one of my priorities from the beginning,” he said. “We have such a diverse community, and some residents may not have had access to as much information as we would like. The more people understand about the causes of home fires, the more we can do to prevent them. Nobody ever thinks it is going to happen to them, but we want to take a positive message to the residents so that they can be prepared.”

He hopes to take the education effort into the schools as well.

Thankfully, Storm Lake has not seen many fatal fires, but, “We have had too many close calls,” the fire chief said. “Headed into home heating season especially, we tend to have risk situations occur. A lot of the situations we see could be preventable.”

Using space heaters improperly can spark a home fire, or heaters may overload electrical systems. Chief Schlesser is concerned that with higher fuel and utility costs, people may turn to unwise solutions like trying to heat a space with a kitchen stove or sterno heaters that are not designed for such a use.

Another common cause of home fires is food forgotten on a stove burner. Sometimes kitchen fires have burned into walls or the ceiling, and residents have been reluctant to report it.

“If there has been fire damage, people should call as soon as it happens. Believe me, we would much rather come out in the middle of the night to make sure a fire is completely handled than see the potential alternative,” the chief said. “That’s what we are here for.”

Smoke detectors are a must, and the department can advise where they should be placed. People with older model detectors should check or replace batteries twice a year – a good way to remember is to take that step when the time changes. Newer detectors are self-contained and designed to operate for 10 years, but should be checked as they near the last few years of that span.

Chief Schlesser also encourages homeowners to consider obtaining carbon monoxide detectors.

“CO is colorless, odorless and tasteless gas. The symptoms can mimic the cold or the flu, but too much exposure can be fatal,” he explained.

It is also crucial for families and workplaces to make an escape plan in the event of a fire. This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is, “Fire won’t wait. Plan your escape.”

“Today’s homes burn faster than ever. You may have as little as two minutes (or even less time) to safely escape a home fire from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Your ability to get out of a home during a fire depends on early warning from smoke alarms and advance planning,” said Lorraine Carli, vice president of Outreach and Advocacy at the National Fire Prevention Association.

“It’s important for everyone to plan and practice a home fire escape. Everyone needs to be prepared in advance, so that they know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds. Given that every home is different, every home fire escape plan will also be different,” Storm Lake’s Chief Schlesser said. “Have a plan for everyone in the home. Children, older adults, and people with disabilities may need assistance to wake up and get out.”

SLFD wants to share these key home fire escape planning tips:

Make sure your plan meets the needs of all your family members, including those with sensory or physical disabilities.

Smoke alarms should be installed inside every sleeping room, outside each separate sleeping area, and on every level of a home. Smoke alarms should be interconnected so when one sounds, they all sound.

Know at least two ways out of every room, if possible. Make sure all doors and windows open easily.

Have an outside meeting place a safe distance from your home where everyone should meet.

Practice your home fire drill at least twice a year with everyone in the household, including guests. Practice at least once during the day and at night.

This is the 100th year of the national fire safety campaign.

For more information on fire safety, visit…and for children,visit For questions and concerns on fire safety in homes of businesses, contact the Storm Lake Fire Department at 732-8010.