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OUR VIEW: Fortunate to have our local fire officials

Sunday kicked off National Fire Prevention Week, and that means it's time to check those smoke alarms. In Mitchell, we're fortunate to have officials who do a good job getting out in the community to spread the word and help make a difference. Mi...

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Sunday kicked off National Fire Prevention Week, and that means it's time to check those smoke alarms.

In Mitchell, we're fortunate to have officials who do a good job getting out in the community to spread the word and help make a difference.

Mitchell Fire Marshal Marius Laursen said the Mitchell Fire Division and other officials visited about 300 homes and helped install more than 100 smoke alarms Saturday on the west end of the city. Many people, Laursen said, had already checked or replaced their smoke alarms. One of the messages of the week is to swap out smoke detectors that are older than 10 years.

Laursen explained anyone can go to American Red Cross website, getasmokealarm.org, to get a free smoke alarm installed in their home.

And this isn't the first year Laursen and the Mitchell Fire Division have been improving safety in the city. Six years ago, Laursen handed out 150 free smoke alarms throughout the city, but he learned that many people never installed them.

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Actually, he said a study showed a surprising 85 percent of people nationwide don't install free smoke alarms. That's why in 2014 he began the door-to-door method of checking with homeowners and helping them install the units.

This week, the Mitchell Fire Division isn't only working with homeowners and smoke alarms. Laursen and firefighters are also going to elementary schools to talk about fire safety and ensuring children know safe routes out of their homes in case a fire were to occur.

And it seems all this fire education and prevention is working in our city.

Since the beginning of the smoke alarm installation push in 2014, there has not been a fatality involved with a structure fire.

And, Mitchell has not had a major structure fire this year. Certainly there have been some small calls the fire department has responded to, but nothing major since the Coca-Cola fire in August 2015, according to Assistant Fire Chief Paul Morris.

So as National Fire Prevention Week is among us, it's a good time to check in on your smoke alarms and educate yourself about fire safety. But it's also a good time to applaud the work of local firefighters. They're doing a darn good job keeping us safe.

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