Firefighters combat holiday fire danger with information

Prevention, working smoke detectors can keep people safe this winter season.

Smoke pours out of a home in the village of Oliver on Oct. 13, 2021. The Town of Superior Fire Department responded to the blaze within nine minutes. Contributed / Town of Superior Fire Department

Firefighters in the town of Superior are sharing a visible reminder to stay safe this holiday season as part of their annual Keep the Wreath Green Campaign. The risk of a fire ramps up during the winter due to heating, holiday decorations, storms and candles, according to the National Fire Protection Association .

A wreath hung on the town of Superior fire hall along U.S. Highway 35 is lit with green bulbs. If a residential fire occurs in Douglas County between Nov. 25 and Jan. 2, one of the green bulbs will change to red. The key to keeping them green is prevention.

Heating is the second leading cause of home fires, topped only by cooking, and nearly half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“Keep combustible items away from all heating sources, have your heating sources inspected, serviced and cleaned,” Solon Springs Fire Chief Jonathon Brostowitz said.


Contributed / National Fire Protection Association

Decorations can also contribute to house fires. Brostowitz offered a list of precautions to use with traditional displays.

“Don’t overload outlets; water that tree as much as possible; inspect your Christmas lights; pay attention to where you put decorations; keep heating sources away from combustibles,” he said.

The most important thing people can do to stay safe this holiday season, he said, is to make sure they have working smoke detectors.

“I can’t stress enough to have people check their smoke detectors or add new ones,” Brostowitz said. “They are cheap and I can't stress enough to have them throughout your homes. Check the batteries in your current ones, test them and/or purchase new ones.”

The National Fire Protection Association recommends every smoke alarm be replaced after 10 years, and that regular batteries be replaced every six months. Another handy protection tool is a fire extinguisher.

“I highly suggest purchasing a fire extinguisher and knowing how to properly use it,” Brostowitz said. “Fires usually start small and can be extinguished very quickly and easily with a fire extinguisher.”

Superior firefighters Jon Francisco, left, and Andy Knutson work to put out fire on the roof of a duplex on Weeks Avenue on April 15, 2020. Jed Carlson / File / Superior Telegram

Answering the call

The Solon Springs Volunteer Fire Department responds to an average of 170 calls a year, the majority of which are medical.

“We have an outstanding group of volunteers that have been very busy responding to calls when the tones go off,” Brostowitz said. “Recruiting will always be a struggle as we are volunteers and not everyone comes knocking on the door to help out, but we are willing to take anyone in to help and serve our community. It’s a pretty fun family we have here.”

Now is the best time to join, he said, as the department has many longtime members with a wealth of information to share. Plans are being made for an emergency medical responder class to be held in Solon Springs in January for local departments. Call 715-817-0000 for more information.

In addition to answering calls, firefighters in towns throughout Douglas County take part in events, from parades and pancake breakfasts, to open houses and school visits.

The Town of Superior Volunteer Fire Department will hold its annual food drive Dec. 18. Starting at 9 a.m., firefighters and emergency medical responders will travel throughout the town, picking up bags of nonperishable food residents leave next to mailboxes. Food can also be dropped off at the Manitou Inn, Oliver Tavern, El Dorado, Four Corners General Store and Borders Sports Bar.

Residents can contact their local fire chief or town board for information about joining their volunteer fire department.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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