Play the interview with Ken Lanphear and Michael McLeieer on the WKZO AM 590 and FM 106.9 Morning Show from 8:30 am 10/28/2020.

Sunday, November 1st is the time to move your clocks back one hour to standard time.

It’s also a great opportunity to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and make sure they are working properly.

The National Fire Protection Association reports that 71% of smoke alarms which failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries, making it important to take this time each year to check your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms.

Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms double the chance of a family surviving a home fire and/or an unsafe carbon monoxide level incident.



E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Safety encourages you to use this checklist to find out if you are taking the right steps to protect your family:

1. Count Your Smoke Alarms – Be sure there is at least one smoke alarm less than 10 years old installed on every level of your home, including one in every bedroom and outside each sleeping area.

2. Change Your Smoke Alarm and Carbon Monoxide Alarm Batteries – Fire experts nationwide encourage people to change their smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries at least once a year. An easy way to remember to do so is to change the battery when you move the clock back to standard time November 1st. Alarms which have a sealed, long-life battery should be good for the life of the alarm (10 years), however they should be tested at least monthly to make sure they are functioning properly.

3. Check Your Smoke Alarms and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – After inserting a fresh battery in each smoke and carbon monoxide alarm, push the safety test button to make sure the alarms are in proper-working condition. Conduct this test monthly. Never disconnect your smoke alarm battery! Remember that a “chirping” alarm is a signal it needs a fresh battery or has reached the end of its 10-year life and needs to be replaced.

4. Clear Your Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms – Ensure your smoke and carbon monoxide alarms’ sensitivity by cleaning them each month of dust and cobwebs.

5. Replace Your Smoke Alarms – The United States Fire Administration recommends replacing smoke alarms every 10 years and having a combination of both ionization and photo electric smoke alarms to alert you to all types of home fires.

6. Change Your Flashlight Batteries – Keep flashlights with fresh batteries at your bedside for help in finding the way out and signaling for help in the event of a fire.

7. Get the Entire Family Involved – Once smoke and carbon monoxide alarms have fresh batteries installed, you should make sure family members, children in particular, know what the alarms sound like and what to do should they go off…Get Out and Stay Out and then call 911 from a safe meeting place once outside!

8. If you need a free smoke or carbon monoxide alarm, contact your local fire department. Many fire departments offer free smoke alarms to local residents.

By following these important reminders, we’re Keeping Michigan S.A.F.E.™ Sometimes saving a life can be that simple – Change Your Clocks and Check Your Alarms!



Escape trailer

Do you know what to do if a fire breaks out in your home?  Each year, thousands of people are seriously injured or needlessly die in home fires because they didn’t have working smoke alarms or their family didn’t create and practice a home fire escape plan.  Most often, it is the intense heat and thick smoke that brings injury and death to our children and not the flames themselves.  The sudden wail of a smoke alarm, the darkness of night and the presence of smoke will almost always cause the untrained child to panic, prompting them to hid in closets, under beds or even in the bath tub.  This makes the search and rescue job of the firefighter even more difficult than it already is.

October 10, 2020 marks the 25th anniversary of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., a non-profit charity headquartered in Kalamazoo, Michigan whose mission is to teach children and adults what to do when they encounter smoke or fire conditions and prepare them to respond correctly to emergency situations and help those in need by learning CPR and first aid.  E.S.C.A.P.E. stands for Education Showing Children and Adults Procedures for Evacuations.


The E.S.C.A.P.E. Fire Truck in the early years. It was used to give fire truck rides and show children what a fire truck looks like when it arrives at their home to mitigate any emergency situation.

“25 years ago, the #1 victim in home fires were children,” said firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.  “Children need to know what to do during and emergency.  When we teach them and have them demonstration basic but life-saving skills, they will respond correctly each and every time and save themselves and often their family,” according to McLeieer.


The original E.S.C.A.P.E. trailer was 27′ long and was decorated like a children’s bedroom. It had a bed and closet to show children the places they should never hide, and there was a window and door to escape the theatrical fog. It was decorated in a Loony Tunes cartoon theme.

E.S.C.A.P.E. was founded as a means of connecting age and developmentally appropriate fire and life safety messaging with school-aged children and adults in hopes they would be better prepared to escape a home fire alive and not become another tragic statistic.  The goal was to connect resources with local fire departments, primarily paid on call and volunteer departments who may not have the means to deliver fire and life safety education or install smoke and carbon monoxide alarms in homes throughout their community.

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E.S.C.A.P.E.’s preschool visits include our very popular “Tools vs. Toys” program. The firefighter sits on the floor with the students and removes various items out of a special box. This box contains items that are “ok” for children to use and play with, but also includes “tools” that should only be used by a grownup. This interactive activity allows the children to decide for themselves what is a “tool” and what is a “toy” by having the firefighter place each item in one of two piles. Skills taught include critical thinking, problem solving, responsibility and mathematics.

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These children are eager to make a simulated smoke alarm using paper plates. The firefighter demonstrates how a real smoke alarm works, the importance of having a fresh battery in the smoke alarm and making sure the battery is changed twice a year. The students are able to color their pretend smoke alarm and battery the color of their choice. Skills taught include gross and fine motor skills and active participation.

The E.S.C.A.P.E. program has demonstrated an outstanding commitment to public education locally and nationally.  In 2007 McLeieer and Vice President Lt. Scott Maker were invited to become adjunct instructors for the U.S. Fire Administration’s National Fire Academy.  The goal was for the two to share their knowledge and best practices in public education and youth firesetting intervention with the U.S. fire service.

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E.S.C.A.P.E.’s Youth Firesetting Intervention Program teaches respect, responsibility, team building, and good decision-making.

That same year, E.S.C.A.P.E. received a federal Fire Prevention and Safety Grant from FEMA to purchase a new and larger state-of-the-art-fire and life safety education training trailer for the program.   The E.S.C.A.P.E. Mobile Training Center is decorated as a room that brings theatrical fog inside which looks like real smoke to show patrons how difficult it is to see during fire conditions.  Jake the Fire Safety Dog, a black Labrador retriever, was also added to the program in 2007.  Jake taught audiences how to Stop, Drop and Roll and Crawl Low Under Smoke.  At least 2 “saves” have been recorded by young children (a 4-year-old boy and a 6-year-old girl) who watched Jake’s life-safety demonstrations and understood the correct actions they should take during their home fires.


Jake the Fire Safety Dog sits with this class of children. Together they learn about fire and life safety techniques inside the 38′ E.S.C.A.P.E. Mobile Training Center smoke demonstration training trailer.


Children learn how to Crawl Low Under Smoke (theatrical fog) to simulate what to do during a home fire!

On May 22, 2013, McLeieer and the program were recognized by Liberty Mutual Insurance’s National Firemark Award for Community Service.  This prestigious award is presented to one U.S. firefighter who best represents their community through courageous valor and who best demonstrate the firefighter’s selfless spirit.  The award takes its name from the firemark, a leaden plate in the form of a Phoenix rising from the ashes, which American fire offices in the 18th and 19th centuries used to mark all the houses they insured.  The firemark stood as a guarantee to all fire brigades that the insurance company that insured the house in question would reward them for extinguishing a fire on the premises.


Firefighter Michael McLeieer holds the 2012 National Firemark Award for Community Service.

On May 6, 2016, McLeieer and E.S.C.A.P.E. were awarded the National Volunteer Fire Council’s 2016 Fire Prevention and Education Award.  The award annually honors an individual who has made a major contribution in the field of fire prevention.


The 2016 National Volunteer Fire Council’s Fire Prevention and Education Award was presented to E.S.C.A.P.E.’s founder, firefighter Michael McLeieer on May 6, 2016 for his commitment to America’s volunteer fire, rescue and emergency services.

July 31, 2014, the E.S.C.A.P.E. program had its one millionth child go through the smoke demonstration training trailer at the Maranda Park Party in Battle Creek, Michigan.

During the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, McLeieer and his colleagues hosted webinars and Facebook Live events to share best-practices for firefighters and public fire and life safety educators to consider when they deliver their Fire Prevention Week education, even if they could not go in the schools.

E.S.C.A.P.E. and its team continue to evaluate the program’s effectiveness through pre and post exams and skills demonstrations.  For the past 25 years, they have been dedicated to raising a fire-safe generation thanks to great partners including our founding partners WOTV 4 and Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse.


Happy 25th Birthday E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc.


WOOD TV 8 launched the Connecting with Community Awards in 2008. E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. was honored to be one of the 8 finalists that first year!


E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. and Rescue One Fire Safety For Kids were finalists in the WOOD TV 8 Connecting with Community Awards on May 13, 2010 for our combined community outreach teaching fire and life safety.


October is Fire Prevention Month but it’s important your family is prepared and stays safe all year long!  The Keeping Michigan S.A.F.E.™ Installation Program has created a list of area smoke alarm and/or carbon monoxide alarm installation programs across West Michigan.  Check it out below!

Allegan County:

  • Dorr Township Fire Department – 616-681-9874
  • Fennville Area Fire Department – 269-561-2148
  • Ganges Township Fire Department – 269-227-3806
  • Graafschap Fire and Rescue – 616-396-4060
  • Salem Township Fire – 616-292-7789
  • Saugatuck Township Fire District – 269-857-3000
  • Wayland Fire Department – 269-779-2999

Barry County:

  • Yankee Springs Fire Department – 269-779-299

Branch County

Calhoun County:

  • Battle Creek Fire Department – 269-966-3519
  • Marengo Township Fire Department – 269-781-8422

Eaton County:

Kalamazoo County:

  • American Red Cross – 269-353-6180
  • Kalamazoo Township Fire Department – 269-888-2171 –
  • Portage Department of Public Safety – Fire Division – 269-329-4487

Kent County:

  • American Red Cross – 616-456-8661
  • Byron Township Fire Department – 616-878-9174 –
  • Cutlerville Fire Department – 616-455-7670
  • Dutton Fire Department  – 616-541-0119
  • Grand Rapids Fire Department – 616-456-3966
  • Kent City Fire Department – 616-678-4330 –
  • Kentwood Fire Department – 616-554-0800
  • Lowell Area Fire Department – 616-897-7354 –
  • Walker Fire Department – 616-791-6840
  • Healthy Homes Coalition of West Michigan (must live in Grand Rapids, Kentwood, or Wyoming and have a resident child 14 years of age or younger. Both tenants and owners are eligible) – 616-241-3300 or email

Montcalm County:

  • Home Township Fire Department (Edmore) – 989-427-3211

Muskegon County:

  • Blue Lake Township Fire Department – 231-288-9220
  • Casnovia Township Fire Department  – 231-834-7066
  • Dalton Township Fire Department – 231-766-3277
  • Egelston Fire Department – 231-788-2254
  • Fruitport Township Fire Department  – 231-773-9312
  • Holton Township Fire Department – 231-343-6861
  • Montague Fire District Authority – 231-893-3311
  • Moorland Township Fire Department – 231-769-9402
  • Muskegon Charter Township Fire Department – 231-773-4316
  • Muskegon Heights Fire Department – 231-733-8893
  • Muskegon City Fire Department – 231-724-6795
  • North Muskegon Fire Department  – 231-744-1766
  • Norton Shores Fire Department – 231-799-6809 –
  • Ravenna Fire Department – 231-638-1142
  • White Lake Fire Authority – 231-893-6503

Newaygo County:

Oceana County:

Ottawa County:

  • Allendale Fire Department – 616-895-6295, ext. 30
  • Coopersville/Polkton Fire Rescue – 231-638-1444 –
  • Crockery Township Fire Department  – 616-837-6700 (fire station) or 616-837-6868 (township hall)
  • Grand Haven Department of Public Safety – 616-842-3460
  • Spring Lake Fire Department – 616-215-1590

St. Joseph County:

  • White Pigeon Township Fire Department – 269-483-9414

Van Buren County:

For more information on fire safety or to find a smoke alarm installation program near your community, call toll free 1-844-978-4400 or email




E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc., an award-winning fire safety organization is teaming up with AARP Michigan, WOTV 4 Women, the National Fire Protection Association® (NFPA®), First Alert®, the National Volunteer Fire Council and the Michigan fire service for Fire Prevention Week 2020.  This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme is Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen!™  The campaign runs from October 4-10 and works to educate everyone about simple but important actions they can take to keep themselves and those around them safe.

According to NFPA, cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the United States.  Almost half (44%) of reported home fires started in the kitchen.  Two-thirds (66%) of home cooking fires start with the ignition of food or other cooking materials. “Cooking fires are preventable,” said Firefighter Michael McLeieer, president and founder of the non-profit charity E.S.C.A.P.E.  “It’s important that people stay in the kitchen when they are cooking, use a timer as a reminder when the food is done and avoid distractions such as electronics or televisions.  These are some of the important steps everyone can take to keep families safe in their homes,” according to McLeieer.

A cooking fire can grow quickly.  Each year many homes are damaged and people are injured by fires that could easily have been prevented.

E.S.C.A.P.E. Inc. and AARP Michigan offer this recipe for Fire-Safe Cooking.

  • Keep an eye on what you fry.  Never leave cooking food unattended.  Stay in the kitchen while you are frying, grilling or broiling.  If you have to leave, even for a short time, turn off the stove.
  • Stand by your pan.  If you are simmering, baking, roasting or boiling food, check it regularly, remain in the home while food is cooking and use a timer to remind you that you’re cooking.
  • You have to be alert and awake when cooking.  Alcohol and some drugs can make you sleepy.
  • Always keep an oven mitt and pan lid nearby when you’re cooking.  If a small grease fire starts, slide the lid over the pan to smother the flames.  Turn off the burner and leave the pan covered until it is completely cool.
  • Turn pot handles toward the back of the stove so no one can bump them or pull them over.
  • Have a “kid-free and pet-free zone” of at least 3 feet around the stove and areas where hot food or drink is prepared or carried.

To learn more about Fire Prevention Week programs and activities Where You Live, please contact your local fire department.  For more information about cooking fire prevention, visit or