Normally the flashing lights and sirens of a Calgary Fire Department fire truck mean an emergency is happening, but on Wednesday those same sirens and lights instead honoured the newest member of the Calgary Fire Department.
Mustafa Mohammadi, 11, was given the title of Junior Fire Chief on Oct. 11, marking the start of his term as an ambassador for fire safety to young people across the city.
Mohammadi was selected as part of a long-running partnership between CFD and the Alberta’s Children Hospital, which connects young community patients with the opportunity to volunteer to spread fire safety messages.
“I feel very happy because I feel like this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and I’d love to share that with my family and friends,” said Mohammadi.
He said he was ready to take on the responsibility of sharing the message for this year, which is cooking safety in the home.
Calgary Fire Chief Steve Dongworth said that the benefit of the program was that it gives young Calgarians someone of their own age and in their peer group to deliver the fire safety message.
“This is a very significant role and we don’t take this appointment lightly,” said Chief Dongworth.
“This is just a great community program, but to have an ambassador who can talk to people in their peer group, the same kind of grade, or around the same age is very powerful.”
Fire Prevention Week seeks to educate on most common cause of house fires
Chief Dongworth said that each year the National Fire Protection Association picks the theme for Fire Prevention Week, but that this year’s topic is one that directly affects Calgarians.
“We continue to see cooking fires as our leading cause of fires in Calgary, with people often leaving cooking unattended or sometimes cooking in some unconventional ways,” Dongworth said.
“We have to keep the messaging going about taking care when you’re cooking, making sure you don’t leave cooking unattended… because it also leads to more injuries than other things that we see in homes.”
The Calgary Fire Department asked Calgarians to follow some basic safety techniques in order to reduce the risk of causing fires, including watching what you’re cooking, turning off the heat if food is to be left unattended, and have a kid and pet-free zone around the source of heat to prevent injuries.
As a tip to address small grease fires that can be caused in pans or pots, keep a lid nearby that can be placed on top to cut off oxygen to the fire and allow burners to be turned off.
Alex Kwan, a Community Safety Officer with the Calgary Fire Department, said that CFD and ATCO Gas would be going door to door this year in Marlborough to help residents check their smoke and carbon monoxide detectors on Oct. 12.
“We’re going to help test install replace and replace batteries and non-working smoke alarms and educate residents about the importance of fire safety around their home,” Kwan said.
Chief Dongworth said that messaging around smoke detectors was something that Calgarians would see on the back of fire trucks this week as well.
“Working smoke alarms save lives, and that is so true. We know that with our own programs, and some of the smoke detectors we put in people’s homes will actually save lives,” he said.
For more information on Fire Prevention Week in Calgary, see calgary.ca/firepreventionweek.