At Morris Early Childhood Center, students and teachers celebrated kindergartener Avyn Fuhr for his actions related to an emergency situation at home earlier this year. The Ellendale Fire Company honored Fuhr for being a hero as he received the Excellence in Fire Prevention Award. Fuhr’s actions helped saved his father’s life just weeks after last Christmas.
On January 12, 2015, Avyn’s mother Charlotte had taken their four children to school as her husband, who just got home from working at night, went down for a nap. A fire was started as a lit candle was knocked over and caught several pieces of furniture on fire. Waking up to the sound of smoke detectors, Avyn’s father Jason Fuhr quickly realized what was going on and escaped the house, helping the family dogs out of a window before climbing out himself.
“When I woke up the smoke was inches from my face and if it were not for the sound of the alarm, I would have died in the fire,” said Jason. “I have been told by firefighters that without the alarm, the smoke would have more than likely kept me asleep.”
The dead batteries that were in the home’s smoke detectors just days before the fire were replaced when Avyn came home from school and told his mother and father the importance of checking the batteries on a regular basis. Avyn learned about this safety information from the Ellendale Fire Company when members visited Morris Early Childhood Center and discussed fire prevention and safety with students.
“Avyn was very adamant on me changing the smoke detector batteries and would not let it go until I did,” said Avyn’s mother Charlotte. “If it wasn’t for the fire prevention talk at school those batteries would not have been replaced.”
During the fire, the house was completely lost and the family estimates the damage to be over $180,000. Now living with family until the details of insurance are settled, Jason and Charlotte make it a point every day to tell Avyn that he is a hero for saving his father’s life. Honored by the Ellendale Fire Company last month, Avyn has also received awards and praise from the Delaware State Police for his actions.
The Fuhr family thanked the Fire Chief and his crew for their commitment to teaching young students about fire prevention and safety and pointed to the education as saving Jason’s life. “We all have so much on our plates everyday and sometimes we forget about what we think are small things at the time,” said Jason. “It is extremely important to reach families though their children, they are like sponges and bring everything home.”
At the presentation for Avyn, Deputy Fire Chief Andy Hamilton talked with Avyn’s class and reminded them important information on fire safety and prevention including smoke alarms and escape planning. According to fire officials, families should install smoke alarms inside and outside each bedroom and sleeping area, as well as on every level of the home, including the basement. It is best to use interconnected smoke alarms; when one smoke alarm sounds they all sound. Smoke alarms should be tested at least once a month.
According to an NFPA survey, only one of every three American households have actually developed and practiced a home fire escape plan. While 71% of Americans have an escape plan in case of a fire, only 47% of those have practiced it. Fire officials state that every member of the family should know at least two ways out of every room. Families need to have an outside meeting place, like a tree or light post, that is a safe distance away from the house and away from the road for everyone to meet. Families should practice the home drill at least twice a year, during both the day and night time, and adults should teach children how to escape on their own in case they cannot help them.
“During the fire prevention and safety talks we give kids homework to take home and discuss this information with their families, we ask them to make sure their moms and dads replace smoke alarm batteries and develop a fire escape play,” said Hamilton. “If it works one time and saves one family, the talks have done what they were developed to do.”