"Many people don't understand fire," says Reno Fire Marshal Bill Burney, "but by knowing the nature of fire, people can prepare themselves and their families for preventing, and sometimes experiencing the nature of fire."
The Reno Fire Department believes the more people know and understand the basic facts about fire, the better they can play a major role in reducing fire deaths.
"Fire is fast, hot, dark and deadly," says Burney. "As we observe National Fire Prevention Week and it's theme of 'Practice Your Escape Plan,' it's important for people to recognize that in the event of a fire, time is the biggest enemy because every second counts!"
Burney says every home should have a fire escape plan with the number one priority of escape first.
"Everyone should develop a home fire escape plan and designate a meeting place outside," says Burney, "and make sure everyone in the family knows two ways to escape from every room."
When practicing escape plans, family members should practice feeling their way out of the room and house with the eyes closed, because fire starts bright, but in minutes it can become complete darkness with black smoke.
" If you wake up to a fire you may be blinded, disoriented and unable to find your way around the home in which you've lived for years," says
"Never stand up in a fire," Burney recommends, "always crawl low under the smoke and try to keep your mouth covered. And, never return to a burning building for any reason; it may cost you're your life."
Reno firefighters point out that there is little time to escape when fire breaks out, so having a working smoke detector dramatically increases the chance of surviving a fire.
In 30 seconds a small flame can get completely out of control and turn into a major fire.
It only takes minutes for thick, black smoke to fill a home, and in minutes a home can be engulfed in flames.
Firefighters also point out that most home fires occur when people are asleep, so when they wake up to a fire, they won't have time to grave valuables because fire spreads too quickly.
"There is only time to escape," Burney says.
Reno fire investigators say that a fire's heat alone can kill.
Room temperatures in a fire can be 90 degrees at floor level and be at 600 degrees at eye level.
They point out that inhaling the super hot air will fatally scorch lungs and that in three minutes a room can get so hot that a "flashover" can occur when everything in it ignites at once.
They point out that fire uses up the oxygen you need and produces poisonous gases that kill.
Breathing even small amounts of these gases can make a person drowsy and disoriented, or quickly render them unconscious.
The often odorless, colorless fumes can easily lull a person into a deep sleep before flames reach their door when means they simply may not wake up.
Burney says area residents can obtain more information about developing a home escape plan and practicing fire prevention measures in the home by contacting the Reno Fire Department's Division
of Fire Prevention at (775) 334-2300.