Fire marshal urges residents to plan escape routes

Fire Prevention Week runs until Saturday

Stephanie Valle, Anchor and Reporter, StephanieV@kvia.com
POSTED: 11:47 AM MDT Oct 12, 2012    UPDATED: 11:23 AM MST Mar 07, 2014 
Central El Paso apartment fire
EL PASO, Texas -

This is Fire Prevention Week and the El Paso Fire Department is urging everyone to take time this week and make sure they have not just one, but two escape plans from their homes.

"Push and hold. Push and hold," said Fire Marshal Calvin Shanks, as he encouraged the manager of the Crest Apartments to test a smoke detector in her hallway. The Fire Department organized a demonstration of escape planning exclusively for ABC-7 Thursday morning at the west El Paso apartment complex.

"You're going to open the door. And if there is a lot of smoke and heat, you're going to shut the door again," Shanks told the manager, opening and closing her bedroom door as he spoke.

Shanks said he firmly believes that functional alarms and escape planning help save lives. The goal of the Fire Department, especially during Fire Prevention Week, is to educate residents on the importance of plotting out how to escape from their homes in the event a fire breaks out, whether it is through a door or a window.

"When you look at any room that you have, you need to know two ways out," Shanks said. "If your first exit is blocked, how are you going to get out a second way?"

The Fire Department finds that the more than 20 El Pasoans killed in house fires over the last two years didn't have alarms or exit strategies. And those who try to do anything other than get themselves out of the burning house are putting themselves at risk.

"You don't have time to fight the fire," said Shanks. "The smoke alarm gives you time to get out. Stay out, gather your family at your meeting place and call 911 for assistance."

The El Paso Fire Department is hosting an open house at all the city's fire stations on Saturday. The event runs from 2 to 4 p.m. Fire officials will be on hand to offer advice on escape route planning. Free smoke alarms will also be available.