Often, Carroll County residents only get to see fire and rescue departments at work. This won’t be the case on Oct. 5 during the annual Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Parade. The event is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. and the route begins on Main Street and finishes at VFW Post 1115.
Assistant Fire Chief Mike Musser said the parade has traditionally been held in connection with National Fire Prevention Week, a nationwide observance held by the National Fire Protection Association. The theme of the campaign this year is “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep: Every Bedroom Needs a Working Smoke Alarm.”
According to NFPA statistics, half of all U.S. home fire deaths occur at night from 11 p.m. and 7 a.m, when people are most likely to be sleeping. Having a working smoke alarm in the home cuts the risk of dying in a fire in half. These facts underscore the extreme importance of having working smoke alarms in all bedrooms.
An online questionnaire distributed by the NFPA showed less than half (42 percent) of approximately 36,000 respondents did not know a smoke alarm should be installed in each bedroom. The NFPA has been the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years. The week runs from Oct. 4 to Oct. 10. The Hillsville Volunteer Fire Department will also hold Fire Prevention Week Activities in local schools.
According to the National Archives and Records Administration’s Library Information Center, Fire Prevention Week is the longest running public health and safety observance on record. The President of the United States has signed a proclamation proclaiming a national observance during that week every year since 1925.
“Our tradition is to hold the parade on the first Monday in October,” Musser said. “Other areas do their parades on a Tuesday night.” He said participating departments don’t empty out their station houses, leaving enough units to cover routine calls. Should the unexpected happen, units simply leave the parade line and go the scene of a call.
Musser explained the parade gives rescue squads and fire departments a chance to show off their vehicles and meet the public. There’s also a chance for fellowship with fellow firefighters and first responders at a hot dog dinner at the VFW Hall following the parade.
This year’s parade, for the first time, will include the newly formed Hillsville Fire Department color guard/honor guard. The Carroll County High School Band, “Sparky” the fire dog, and the VFW Post 1115 Color Guard will also participate. Departments from Patrick, Montgomery and Henry counties have participated in past parades with 80 individual units driving the route.
“We’re always looking for volunteers,” said Musser. “Our department is a volunteer organization. It takes a lot of time and a certain type of person to jump out of a warm bed and turn out to fight a fire on a cold winter’s night. It’s a great thing to be a part of a fire department. We train hard and we work hard.”
He said the department offers a cadet program. Cadets are not allowed to respond to actual calls until they complete national certification. Musser said the department currently has high school students who are cadets.
“There’s so much training and awareness about safety to being a firefighter,” Musser said. “There’s so much more hazardous materials (in home construction) and accidents on the Interstate contain unique hazards for firemen to be aware of. It’s all about safety. That’s our ultimate goal, to keep people safe.”
Firefighting is a tradition in the Musser family, with his great grandfather Roy Manning and his father, Gene, both serving in departments. Musser has been a fireman since the 1980s. People may visit www.firepreventionweek.org for more fire safety information.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.