Each year, fire officials in Gloucester and other communities try to get out the word about fire hazards — especially during the winter months, when the hazards of smoking indoors, using temporary space heaters, leaving clogged chimneys untouched and other dangerous habits can take hold.
Those warnings are usually disseminated by press release, and often land on the inside pages of the Times, where they admittedly don’t always capture readers attention they should.
But city and Cape Ann residents have seen all too clearly the results of those hazards over the last two weeks, with one resident — now identified as Kim Anderson of Windsor Lane — tragically dead and at least five other families burned out of their homes after a string of five house fires in 10 days.
In that vein, Gloucester Fire Chief Eric Smith and other city firefighters deserve credit for emphasizing the need for residents to be aware of the hazards in their homes, and to take steps aimed at improving their own fire safety, from ensuring that smoke alarms are operational to avoiding the use of dangerous heating devices and other hazards. Indeed, Smith noted that anyone having difficulty installing a smoke detector can also turn to the department for help. Whether the person is not physically capable of installing it, does not own the proper installation equipment — like a ladder or screwdriver — or needs advice on where to position a smoke detector, the resident can call the department’s fire prevention division, and firefighters can swing by to help, Smith said.
That’s truly what public service is all about — and an offer residents should not hesitate to take up.