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Cooking safety is theme of this year's Fire Prevention Month

WILLMAR -- In the heat of Fire Prevention Month, Fire Departments are fanning the flames -- so to speak -- on public education regarding fire prevention techniques.

WILLMAR -- In the heat of Fire Prevention Month, Fire Departments are fanning the flames -- so to speak -- on public education regarding fire prevention techniques.

This month of October marks the 85th observation of Fire Prevention Month -- the longest running public health and safety event on record. This week also marks Fire Prevention Week, and this year firefighters are asking the public to concentrate on fire safety in the kitchen.

"Prevent cooking fires, watch what you heat," is the motto for this year's Fire Prevention Month.

According to a news release from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, 45 percent of the more than 5,000 residential fires that occurred in 2005 began in kitchens. The fires accounted for $3.1 million in property loss, injured 34 people and caused the death of one.

"Most kitchen fires could be prevented by respecting the destructive potential of a hot stove," said Jerry Rosendahl, state fire marshal, in the release. "You have to be careful with combustible material, and you can't leave the kitchen without taking a serious risk."

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The Willmar Fire Department is also spreading the word on fire prevention to the public this month.

"We go out into the public and try to get our message out there," Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin said.

Trying to hit every age group, the department is involving itself in a slew of events ranging from preventative talks at the VFW's senior dining to performing fire drills at area schools to test the quickness of teachers and students.

On Wednesday the fire department hosted an open house at the fire hall from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. to spread information about fire prevention. Calvin said the department gave away boys and girls bicycles along with other adult-oriented prizes like fire extinguishers and carbon monoxide detectors at the event.

Calvin said that the department is also offering tours of the fire hall everyday in October for home-schooled children and students in kindergarten through first grade. On Saturday the department will participate in public safety day at Home Depot from 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. And the department will be doing fire demonstrations at the Kandi Mall Oct. 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.

Although October alone is dedicated to fire prevention, Calvin said fire prevention is a year-round task.

This year the department has again set a goal to not have any child-set fires. Calvin said there have been no accidental fires set by children in the past three years.

"That doesn't happen by accident," Calvin said.

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Calvin went on to say that the fire department and other law enforcement put in a lot of work to prevent fire accidents in the community.

The Willmar Fire Department is a paid-on-call organization. Calvin serves as the full-time fire chief.

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