“The kids watched us tow all of their Christmas presents out as the smoke engulfed the house,” said Longo. “Although no lives were lost, lives were definitely affected.”

One late Christmas Eve, Brandon S. Longo, the French Creek fire station captain with Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune Fire and Emergency Services Division, arrived at a structure fire and quickly realized that children lived in the home. With the house billowing full of smoke, Longo and his team rushed in to put out the fire, and luckily, the family’s Christmas was saved.

As the holiday season approaches, the MCB Camp Lejeune Fire and Emergency Services Division (FESD) is participating in National Fire Prevention week (Oct. 9-15) to spread awareness about the importance of fire safety and having a plan.

“On top of ensuring the fire safety of our local communities, we’re also here to educate and help out whenever and wherever we can,” said Longo. “Fire safety begins with knowing the best way out, as situations dealing with fires can develop quickly.”

Caleb Mitchell, a firefighter with Camp Lejeune Fire and Emergency Services Division (FESD), participates in a live training exercise held at the FESD training center on Marine Corps Base (MCB) Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, Sept. 27, 2022. The MCB Camp Lejeune FESD participated in various fire-safety activities during the month of October to promote National Fire Prevention Week 2022.This year’s theme is “fire won’t wait, plan your escape.” (U.S. Marine Corps photo Lance Cpl. Antonino Mazzamuto)

The MCB Camp Lejeune FESD has held various events ranging from live fire exercises to children’s puppet shows. These events help show in real time what the fire department’s roles and capabilities are and how to stay safe at home.

“One of the most important things is to know where all the exits of your building or home are,” said Paul Cavanaugh, a firefighter with MCB Camp Lejeune FESD. “The more that you know, the safer you can be.”

In the U.S., the top three causes of fire are cooking, heating equipment, and electrical malfunction, where in less than 30 seconds, a small flame can turn into a significant fire.

“You only have two minutes to get out,” said Robert K. Sandy, an assistant fire chief with the MCB Camp Lejeune FESD. “Start planning now and establish a safe area for your family.”

Part of the planning process is knowing the various fire safety equipment available. When owning fire safety equipment, ensuring that it is properly functioning equipment can sometimes mean the difference between life and death.

“A couple of the most common household fire safety items are smoke detectors and fire extinguishers,” said Longo. “Although, it’s important to note that the equipment is understood how to be used and maintained correctly. Be sure to check your equipment at least once every month, and research how to operate it properly.”

Smoke alarms can cut the risk of dying in a fire nearly in half by sensing abnormal amounts of smoke or invisible combustion gasses in the air. Additionally, hand-held fire extinguishers, when used properly, are capable of extinguishing fires 95 percent of the time.

“My motivation every day lies with the difference that I can make, not only for the general public but for the people I work with and the base,” said Longo. “Firefighters are always here for the public and their safety; we’re all about doing all we can for others and ensuring everyone has a plan for when the time comes. Fire won’t wait, plan your escape.”