Plympton Fire Dept. asking families to conduct fire drills at home during pandemic

The Massachusetts Fire Code requires schools to conduct four fire drills in a year. But since the pandemic cut this school year short, the Plympton Fire Department asked families to hold their own fire drills at home.

PLYMPTON, Mass. — When the carbon monoxide detectors went off in Jackson Randall’s house last month, the 7-year-old knew exactly what to do.

“I went to my meeting place and I got out of the house,” Jackson said.

Jackson learned about fire safety plans at Dennett Elementary, then had his family implement their own escape plan.

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“When the emergency happened, he knew exactly what to do without being nervous,” Jackson’s mother, Sarah, said.

The Massachusetts Fire Code requires schools to conduct four fire drills in a year. But since the pandemic cut this school year short, the Plympton Fire Department asked families to hold their own fire drills at home.

“We put out a message to the parents, if they were able to, to practice setting the detectors off at home, exiting the home, and going to their meeting place,” Fire Captain John Sjostedt said.

Fire prevention is more important now than ever.

There were more fire deaths in April, 2020 than any other April since 2008, according to the Massachusetts Dept. of Fire Services. State investigators said in many of those cases, there were no working smoke alarms.

The number of carbon monoxide incidents in 2018 increased by 1,451 calls--or 9 percent--from 2017, according to the Dept. of Fire Services. State Fire Marshall Peter Ostroskey encourages all families to create a fire safety plan.

“In an fire, people will rely on what they have practiced, which is why home fire drills are so important,” Ostroskey said.

84% of Massachusetts building fires took place in residential homes, according to the Dept. of Fire Services.

“Fire officials recommend holding drills in the day time first, and then a nighttime drill to make sure your children will wake up to the sound of the smoke alarm,” Ostroskey said.

The State Fire Marshall’s Office offers a guide to help families create and practice a home escape plan.

Sjostedt recommends parents run through the drills once a month.

“Make sure [your kids] know it’s not something they have to be afraid of. It’s a learned skill, something they have to be practice to be really good at,” Sjostedt said.

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