Firefighters seeing holiday red

By Dave Gomez

The DeKalb Fire Department is hoping to see red this holiday season.

The department’s Red Wreath Program, originally started in 1986, will begin again this Thanksgiving as a way to raise awareness about fire and home safety during the holiday season.

“We’ve got these big, huge green wreaths we put on the station,” said assistant fire chief Reuben Nelson.

Each wreath is put up with a red bulb. When there is an emergency fire incident related to the holiday season, firefighters change one of the red bulbs to a white one.

The goal is to draw attention to fire safety during the holiday season and keep the wreaths red, Nelson said, who advised people to take caution during the holiday season.

Stringing too many extension cords in a home should be avoided as it can overexert the electrical wiring, he said. Christmas trees should also be kept watered.

Candles pose an especially dangerous risk during the holidays.

“That’s the one thing that comes to mind the most, the candles,” Nelson said.

Nelson said during his 26-year career, he had seen several fatalities as a result of candle-related fires, as well as a house burning down.

The Sycamore Fire Department will also participate in the Red Wreath Program during the same period.

“We pick up a little bit more on the fire calls…Christmas candles, bad lighting,” said Sycamore firefighter and paramedic Tom Pritchett, who also runs the department’s fire prevention program.

Pritchett said the wreaths help keep people aware of situations that could happen due to fires.

Last year, the red wreaths were up for 34 days in DeKalb with no holiday season-related fire incidents. The DeKalb Fire Department still responded to 271 requests for emergencies, 161 for emergency medical calls and 108 for fire and assistance calls. Only one was for a building structure fire.

The wreaths will go up Nov. 25 at the three DeKalb Fire Stations at 1700 Pine St., 21154 S. Seventh St. and 3950 Dresser Road,0 and will be displayed until New Year’s Day.

A report on the department’s results during the holiday season will be released in January.

For more information about the Red Wreath Program or about fire safety, contact DeKalb Fire Chief Lanson Russell at 748-8460.