Survey shows Americans underestimate fire risk

Americans underestimate their risk of fire, a new survey from the National Fire Protection Association has found. Choosing from a list of disasters, 31 percent of those surveyed said they felt most at risk for tornadoes, while only 27 percent named fire as the highest risk, followed by hurricanes (14 percent), earthquakes (9 percent), floods (9 percent) and terrorist attacks (5 percent).

But among all those disasters, fires are more common -- and many times more deadly. Fire departments responded to 1.6 million fires in the United States in 2003. Tornadoes average 70 deaths a year, and fires killed 3,925 people in 2003, most of them in their homes. More people died in fires in 2003 than in all natural disasters combined.

Winter warning

With cold weather here, everyone needs to check the furnace, replace filters and have a qualified person check its operation. If you burn wood or coal don't forget to clean your chimneys and dispose of ashes properly.

Ashes can stay hot for days.

Don't place ashes in paper bags or cardboard boxes.

An argument for 4A

Thomas W. Rogers was appointed the first fire chief in Craig, and with $723.08 he bought the first fire fighting equipment, 1,000 feet of 2.5-inch fire hose and two hose carts fully equipped. Rogers was authorized to work on the formation and drilling of a fire department that could meet the requirements of the underwriters. One of the hose carts was mounted with a large soda and acid chemical tank. The cart had to be pulled by hand most of the time. Two long ropes were attached to either side and six sticks were run through them so the six to twelve men could pull it. If a horse could be found it was used.

During World War I, so many firemen went to fight that the fire department was disbanded.

After the war, a new department was organized, and Alva Mann became chief. In 1921, A Model-T truck replaced the carts and in 1924, a Chevrolet 1.5 ton truck was put into use.

In 1927, the department became a member of the Colorado State Fireman's Association. The association covered all fire departments under certain regulations for pension and disability insurance.

In 1939, The Fireman's Ball made its debut. The ball was designed to raise money to buy a new truck and create an emergency fund. It took two years to raise $1,000. With the money, the firemen purchased a Dodge truck chassis, and the town equipped it with a 500 gallon-per-minute pump.

In 1950 the department was limited to 15 men and they were paid $2 a call. There was also a limit set by the underwriters of the insurance companies on how far the fire department could travel to respond. The fire department took a lot of criticism for not responding to fires out of the city limits.

To stop the criticism, in 1951, 21 taxpayers signed a petition to form the Craig Rural Fire Protection District. The district's goal was to provide fire protection to the taxpayers in the district.

In 1994, the name for the fire fighters became Craig Fire / Rescue, to reflect more closely what our role in the fire district is.

Your fire district started with $16,500, with a portion donated by the city. Now the budget is about $418,000.00.

In 1915, when the Manhattan hotel was destroyed by fire, there was no water works, no fire department and no equipment. The lack of a water system had its effect and spearheaded the people of Craig to action. A water bond was turned down at the first election in 1915. In 1916, it was brought up again and passed. Craig Rural Fire Protection District and Craig Fire/Rescue is facing another possible water shortage, this time, in the rural parts of your district. As most taxpayers know, a 1970 tanker was lost because of engine failure. The fire district Board of Directors chose not to repair this 34-year-old truck because of its age and the fire district's financial situation. With substantial growth in the rural areas of the fire district, we need your help to replace the cab and chassis and put the 3,500-gallon tank back on. With decreasing tax dollars we are asking for our taxpayers help in continuing to provide the service you are accustom to.

We urge voters to vote in favor of referendum 4A on Election Day.

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