Monday, October 7, 2019

Episode 493 (10-7-19): Planning and Practicing an Escape During Fire Prevention Week 2019

Click to listen to episode (4:15)

Sections below are the following:
Transcript of Audio
Audio Notes and Acknowledgments
Related Water Radio Episodes
For Virginia Teachers (Relevant SOLs, etc.).

Unless otherwise noted, all Web addresses mentioned were functional as of 10-4-19.


From the Cumberland Gap to the Atlantic Ocean, this is Virginia Water Radio for the week of October 7, 2019.  This week we revisit the topic of an October 2017 episode.  We start with a series of mystery sounds related to a national safety campaign held every October.  Have a listen for about 25 seconds and see if you can guess a dangerous phenomenon for which water is the usual remedy.

SOUNDS - ~26 sec – Smoke alarm, fire alarm announcement, fire hydrant pressure test. The fire alarm announcement was as follows: “Attention! Attention! A fire emergency has been reported in the building. Please walk to the nearest exit and evacuate the building. Do not use the elevator.”

If you guessed fire, you’re right!  You heard a home smoke alarm, a fire-emergency announcement, and a fire-hydrant pressure test.  All are aspects of the constant and complicated challenge of preventing fires or protecting people and property when fires do occur.

Fire safety by individuals, families, businesses, and communities is the focus of Fire Prevention Week, which in 2019 runs October 6-12.  Sponsored annually since 1922 by the National Fire Protection Association, or NFPA, the observance always includes October 9, the date when the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 did most of its damage.  NFPA sets a central theme for each year—this year it’s Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!TM The organization also provides many educational items, particularly for school children. One of the learning tools this year is a fire-escape checklist. Here are some points from that list. *In your home, have working smoke alarms on every level, in every sleeping room, and outside each sleeping room.
*Know the sound of the smoke alarm, test alarms once a month, and replace them at least every 10 years.
*Have an escape plan with two ways out of each room and an outside meeting place, and practice the plan.
*Know how to call the fire department quickly.|
*Keep exits clear.
*And when you hear an alarm, get out of the building.

The check-list and other educational resources are available online at; resources particularly for preschool through grade 5 children are available at

During Fire Prevention Week and all year round, education and preparedness can help reduce the times we hear this sound:

SOUND – ~ 8 sec - Fire engine siren.

Thanks to for the fire engine sound, and a special thanks to firefighters everywhere.


Virginia Water Radio is produced by the Virginia Water Resources Research Center, part of Virginia Tech’s College of Natural Resources and Environment.  For more Virginia water sounds, music, or information, visit us online at, or call the Water Center at (540) 231-5624.  Thanks to Ben Cosgrove for his version of “Shenandoah” to open and close the show.  In Blacksburg, I’m Alan Raflo, thanking you for listening, and wishing you health, wisdom, and good water.


The smoke alarm sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at a Blacksburg residence on October 4, 2017.

The fire alarm sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio at Cheatham Hall on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on November 20, 2017.

The fire hydrant pressure test sound was recorded by Virginia Water Radio on the Virginia Tech campus in Blacksburg on March 10, 2017.   Thanks to the Virginia Tech Facilities Department and to Liberty Fire Solutions of Salem, Va., for allowing recording and photographing of the testing and for providing information about the test.  See the Images section below for a photo and more information.

The fire engine sound (dated April 6, 2016) was recorded by user logancircle2 and made available for public use by, online at, under the Creative Commons 0 License.  For more information on Creative Commons licenses, please see; information on the 0 License specifically is online at

Click here if you’d like to hear the full version (2 min./22 sec.) of the “Shenandoah” arrangement/performance by Ben Cosgrove that opens and closes this episode.  More information about Mr. Cosgrove is available online at


Image from the National Fire Protection Association’s (NFPA) for Fire Prevention Week in 2019. Reproduced from the NFPA’s website,, copyright by the NFPA, not for commercial use.

Fire-hydrant pressure testing heard in this episode, being done by a staff member of the Virginia Tech Facilities Department in Blacksburg on March 10, 2017.  The test was to see whether sprinklers in a nearby building would have enough pressure to function in the case of the hydrant being used fully during a fire.


The following information was taken from the Virginia Department of Fire Programs, “Fire Prevention Week,” online at, 10/4/19.

“In 2018 there were 61 civilian fire deaths in Virginia. Don’t become part of the statistic—are you ready if the unthinkable occurs?

“According to the Department of Homeland security, only 71% of Americans have a home escape plan and only 47% of Americans have practiced their plan.  The Fire Prevention Week theme for 2019 is Not Every Hero Wears a Cape, Plan and Practice Your Escape.

“Preparation is vital to surviving a home fire.  Every household should create a fire escape plan and practice the plan.  Don’t just practice in the daylight, practice at night, with the lights off, and with your eyes closed, because it is important that you are able to safely navigate to an exit even in sub-optimal conditions

“Your home escape plan should include [the following};
A map of your home with all doors and windows;
Two ways out of every room;
Smoke alarms marked;
Meeting place marked.

“Also make sure to account for any household members that may need additional assistance exiting in the event of an emergency.  This includes any children, as well as disabled individuals or household members with limited mobility.”


Used for Audio

National Fire Protection Association (NFPA):
*“Fire Prevention Week,” online at;
*“Fire Escape Check List” image, online (as PDF) at;
*“Public Education,” online at This pages offers links to many public education tools, such as safety tip sheets, school lesson plans, and information targeted to specific kinds of buildings.
*“Sparky School House,” online at;
*Video library, online at;
*You Tube channel, online at

Virginia Department of Fire Programs, online at “Fire Prevention Week” link is

For More Information about Fire Awareness and Safety

American Red Cross, “Home Fire Safety,” online at

National Safety Council, “Keep Your Home and Family Safe From Fire,” online at

National Weather Service, “Fire Weather Page,” online at

U.S. Fire Administration, “Fire Prevention and Public Education,” online at This information is particularly for fire departments.

Virginia Department of Forestry, “Fire Situation Report,” online at


All Water Radio episodes are listed by category at the Index link above (  See particularly the Weather/Natural Disasters subject category.

Following is a link to a previous episode for Fire Prevention Week.
Episode 389, 10-9-17.

Following are links to some other episodes on safety issues.
Boating safety: Operation Dry Water and Boating under the Influence – Episode 270, 6-15-15
Boating safety: Safe Boating Week – Episode 111, 5-21-12 and Episode 370, 5-29-17.
Dock safety – Episode 131, 10-8-12.
Earthquake drills – Episode 388, 10-2-17.
Flash flooding – Episode 328, 8-8-16.
Storm surge – Episode 385, 9-11-17.
Tornado preparedness – Episode 463, 3-11-19.
Tropical storm preparedness – Episode 474, 5-27-19.
Weather watch/warning messages – Episode 470, 4-29-19.
Winter preparedness – Episode 448, 11-26-18.


The episode—the audio, extra information, or sources—may help with the following Virginia Standards of Learning (SOLs).

2010 Science SOLs

Grades K-6 Earth Resources Theme
6.9 – public policy decisions related to the environment (including resource management and conservation, land use decision, hazard mitigation, cost/benefit assessments.

Grades K-6 Living Systems Theme
6.7 - natural processes and human interactions that affect watershed systems; Va. watersheds, water bodies, and wetlands; health and safety issues; and water monitoring.

2015 Social Studies SOLs

Grades K-6 Civics Theme
K.10 – good citizenship.
1.10 – good citizenship.
2.11 – good citizenship.
3.11 – good citizenship.

Civics and Economics Course
CE.1 – skills for responsible citizenship.

Government Course
GOVT.1 – skills for responsible citizenship.

Virginia’s SOLs are available from the Virginia Department of Education, online at

Following are links to Water Radio episodes (various topics) designed especially for certain K-12 grade levels.
Episode 250, 1-26-15 – on boiling, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 255, 3-2-15 – on density, for 5th and 6th grade.
Episode 282, 9-21-15 – on living vs. non-living, for kindergarten.
Episode 309, 3-28-16 – on temperature regulation in animals, for kindergarten through 12th grade.
Episode 333, 9-12-16 – on dissolved gases, especially dissolved oxygen in aquatic habitats, for 5th grade.
Episode 403, 1-15-18 – on freezing and ice, for kindergarten through 3rd grade.
Episode 404, 1-22-18 – on ice on ponds and lakes, for 4th through 8th grade.
Episode 406, 2-5-18 – on ice on rivers, for middle school.
Episode 407, 2-12-18 – on snow chemistry and physics, for high school.
Episode 483, 7-29-19 – on buoyancy and drag, for middle school and high school.