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Sycamore, DeKalb fire officials report only 1 holiday-related fire

Sycamore firefighter Ian Wheeler, who also serves as the department's fire prevention education coordinator, hangs a wreath over the engine bay at Station 1 on Nov. 20. Local departments hang the wreaths to remind residents of potential holiday-related fire hazards.
Sycamore firefighter Ian Wheeler, who also serves as the department's fire prevention education coordinator, hangs a wreath over the engine bay at Station 1 on Nov. 20. Local departments hang the wreaths to remind residents of potential holiday-related fire hazards.

Between Sycamore and DeKalb, only one light bulb changed from red to white as part of the Red Wreath program to remind people to be aware of holiday-specific fire hazards.

The Sycamore Fire Department changed only one bulb from red to white on its wreath that was hung up on its station for the second year in a row. There were no injuries and minimal property damage as a result of the fire.

DeKalb interim Fire Chief Jeff McMaster said he was glad to report that not a single red light changed to white for the DeKalb department.

“Even though we had incidents, none of them involved holiday things," McMaster said. "So we’re happy about that.”

McMaster said that's been the case for about five years. He said he attributes the lack of holiday-related calls to good public education and that fire officials have kept busy talking to people about the importance of keeping trees fresh, cooking safety, candle safety and electrical issues, including space heater safety.

“It’s really helped us to maintain awareness in the community, which has been paying off greatly,” McMaster said.

Although there was one holiday-related fire in Sycamore, fire officials said in a department news release that they would like to commend everyone in Sycamore for paying attention to holiday safety.

Last year was the first time in more than 10 years the Sycamore department had to change out a red bulb for a white one, signifying that it responded to a holiday-related fire.

There were 302 requests for emergency service in Sycamore, according to the news release. Of those requests, 252 were for emergency medical services, 24 motor vehicle accident responses and 26 nonholiday-related fire responses.

In DeKalb, there were 679 requests for emergency service, with 494 of those being emergency medical calls and 185 nonholiday-related fires and other types of hazards.

McMaster said city fire officials now will shift their focus to more general winter safety, including space heater safety and educating the public not to use blow torches to thaw out frozen pipes. He said fire officials also move on to make the community aware of retention pond and ice safety.

“But shoot, it’s been a mild winter, so we haven’t had to worry about that," McMaster said.

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