Oklahoma Firefighter Works to Promote Fire Safety

By JEANNE LeFLORE, The McAlester News-Capital | March 31, 2014

A McAlester, Okla., firefighter is working hard to spread the word about fire safety.

McAlester firefighter Robbie Rivers said it is part of an ongoing “Stop the Burn” campaign that was started in the area after a McAlester house fire took the lives of four members of the Edwards family in 2011.

Brad Edwards, his wife Alyce and two of their daughters, Bradlee, 17, and Zoey, 8, died after flames burned down their McAlester home.

To get the job done, Rivers has been busy installing free smoke alarms, visiting schools and taking part in a 5K runs while dressed in full bunker gear.

Rivers ran in a Red Oak 5K recently and plans to take part in Ryan’s Run on April 5, dressed in full fire-fighting gear. He’s challenging other firefighters to join him and told The McAlester News-Capital that he’s doing it to help raise money for the Pittsburg County Child Advocacy Center and to bring awareness to the “Stop the Burn” program.

“I’ll give a ‘Stop the Burn’ T-shirt to all firefighters who join me, dressed in their gear,” Rivers said.

He also said that before and after the run, he will have information available about the “Stop the Burn” program.

Armed with story books in Braille and smoke alarms for the deaf and hard-of-hearing, Rivers hopes to spread the word that everyone can learn to be knowledgeable about house fires.

He said if requested, he will visit area schools to talk to students and to area homes to install or check smoke alarms at no cost.

For those who are hearing impaired, he said he’s got special alarms that are also available for free. The special alarms are programmed to receive a signal from a smoke detector and then vibrate through a mattress and set off flashing lights, according to Rivers.

He said he can do all of this because of the support from his fire chief, Brett Brewer.

“Chief Brewer has been behind `Stop the Burn’ from the beginning,” Rivers said.

Brewer, who’s in charge at the McAlester Fire Department, said he’s happy to support the program.

“The program saves people, including the firefighters,” Brewer said.

He said when firefighters arrive at the scene of a fire and all the family members are outside and accounted for, they don’t have to enter a burning building looking for people.

“It’s a risk management approach,” Brewer said.

One the things Rivers said people should also know is that smoke detectors should be installed in every room of a home, Rivers said.

“Lots of people buy them and never install them, or they install them and don’t check to make sure they still work,” he said.

Rivers said he can also go out to homes in the Pittsburg County area to check smoke detectors or install new ones, also for free.

For more information, call MFD at (918) 423-6709.

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