Barrington Fire Protection: Red wreaths a reminder of holiday hazards
Barrington Fire Lt. Michael Brown and Fire Protection District trustee Marvin Hill promote the local "Keep the Wreath Red" awareness campaign to educate residents about fires caused by holiday decorations or cooking. | Brian O'Mahoney~for Sun-Times Media
Updated: January 14, 2013 7:00AM
Barrington — The wreaths decorated with bright red lights on display at fire stations throughout Barrington are more than just festive seasonal décor.
They are reminders for all residents to be safe by remaining aware of the fire dangers that can spike during this time of year.
The wreaths are part of “Keep the Wreath Red,” a public awareness initiative that encourages residents in Barrington and surrounding areas to protect themselves and families. Marvin Hill, vice president of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, explained that the wreaths are decorated with red lights. For each holiday decoration-related fire, Hill explained, a white bulb will be illuminated on the wreath.
“It’s a public awareness program to prevent holiday fires,” said Hill. “It’s a time when we want people to make sure they’re safe.”
Thomas Long, treasurer of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District, was proud to say that in the seven years Barrington has been participating in the program, not one single white light has been illuminated.
“We have not had to change one bulb on our wreaths,” said Long, who has been a trustee for the district since 1995. “We want to keep the public aware.”
Hill and Long both cited holiday decorations, as well as fireplaces and candles, as culprits for holiday-related fires. Fires have also been known to ignite due to pets knocking candles over. Hill said trees that are not fresh and have dry needles are more susceptible to catching fire.
“Some artificial trees are not flame-retardant,” said Hill. “And we want people to make sure smoke detectors are working right.”
Holiday cooking, Hill added, can be another contributor to fires. Long also cited overloading of electrical circuits.
James Arie, Fire Chief for the Village of Barrington, recommends keeping trees well watered so the needles do not dry out. He also recommended not leaving lights on for extended periods of time and to use a power strip if necessary, so as not to overstress power circuits.
“We have not had a fire caused by any Christmas-related items throughout the month of December,” said Arie. “We hope it continues that way.”
Long, who is a semi-retired emergency physician, said he strongly believes in the program because of the number of burn victims he has seen during his career.
“I embraced the idea of ‘Keep the Wreath Red’ to keep fire safety in people’s minds during the holiday season,” said Long. “I just urge people to be safe.”
The wreaths are on display at fire stations serving the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District and the Village of Barrington. They are hung on the doors through New Year’s Day at the fire stations in Lake Barrington, Barrington Hills and the Public Safety Building on Northwest Highway.
“Keep the Wreath Red” was started in Naperville in 1954. Since then, it has grown into a regional program adopted by numerous Chicago-area communities.