10/04/2021 – WLNS 6 News – Sunday, October 3rd kicks off the start of Fire Prevention Week with experts focusing on reminding people to have working smoke alarms at home. A beeping smoke alarm in the middle of the night might be tempting to pull out the battery to make it stop. But Fire Inspector Michael Roberts with Delta Township Fire Department says don’t do it.

“It’s still very concerning how many times we have a smoke alarm issue or we have a fire and there are still not working smoke alarms in a home,” he said.

He said that people often just forget to install smoke alarms or replace the batteries. Roberts has some advice on where to place your smoke detector.

“…away from the wall, away from the exhaust fans, ductwork, ceiling fans. So that they can detect smoke the quickest, ” he said, “we personally like them up in the ceiling”.

Delta Township Fire Department recommends changing your smoke detector batteries every six months. A good rule of thumb is when you change your clocks during your daylight savings time you should also change the batteries on your smoke detectors.

But fire prevention week isn’t just a reminder to check your smoke detectors, it’s also about making sure you’re doing your part to keep firefighters safe.

“The number two cause of firefighter fatalities in the United States is vehicle accidents. And so we want to come out and make sure that everybody understands that what we do is dangerous, even when we are driving to emergencies, trying to get to people who are asking for our help,” Roberts said.

Fire safety expert Michael McLeieer says distractions like phones or loud music can keep drivers from noticing fire trucks on the road until it’s too late.

“Part of the problem today is that our vehicles today are much better insulated than what they ever used to be. And if we have a stereo on, we have the air conditioner on, or what have you, we might not necessarily hear that emergency sirens or see those flashing lights,” he said.

Roberts said first responders are more likely to get into a crash on the way to a scene. He hopes drivers remember a simple tip.

“Pull over to the right. Let that emergency traffic go by so that we can keep the community safe and you can help keep us safe,” he said.

Fire Prevention Week 2021 Contest

Fire Prevention Week 2021 is October 3 – 9 and we have a fun way to celebrate together!

Post a photo or video of your favorite fire safety action or slogan now through October 9th to Jake The Fire Dog’s social media pages (Facebook, Twitter or Instagram) and use #MISAFE as the hashtag.  Examples include drawing a slogan (Get Out and Stay Out, Know Two Ways Out of Every Room, Close your bedroom door before you go to sleep) or posting a photo of your family drawing and practicing your home escape plan, going outside to the meeting place…a tree, a neighbor’s house, a sidewalk, or your outside safe meeting spot) or creating your own message that will encourage others to take proactive steps to prevent a home fire and stay safe!

Here is a free template to download and draw your home fire escape map!  Home Escape Map WOTV

We will select a few entries and award fun prizes to the winners!

Hurry, the contest ends on October 9th!





Now that the holidays are wraping up, it’s time to take some steps to keep you and your home fire-safe throughout 2021.  Did you know 1 in every 7 home fires and 1 in every 5 home fire deaths involves heating equipment?  Half of all home heating fires occur in December, January and February.


Here is the link to the live radio interview with E.S.C.A.P.E.‘s founder Michael McLeieer on December 28th at 7:50 am on WKZO AM 590 and FM 106.9.

After Christmas:

  • Get rid of your real tree after Christmas or when it is dry.  If the needles drop off, it’s time to properly dispose of your tree.  Dried-out trees are a fire danger and should not be left in the home or garage, or placed outside against the home.
  • Check with your local community to find a tree recycling program.
  • Bring outdoor electrical lights inside after the holidays to prevent hazards and make them last longer.


Fireplace Safety:

  • With temperatures dropping, a roaring fire on a cold night may be great comfort and a real danger.  Before bringing in the logs to fill the fireplace, keep this safety checklist in mind:
    • Have your chimney inspected and cleaned.  An inspection by a certified chimney sweep will detect any repairs that are needed before you use the fireplace.
      • In August, Television personality Rachael Rae had a home fire which started from the fireplace.
    • When your ready to build a fire, burn seasoned wood only.  Dryness of the wood is more important than how hard the wood is.
    • Burn smaller, hotter fires which produce less smoke than larger fires.
    • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room.
    • Make sure the fire is completely out before going to bed or leaving your home.
    • Don’t use your fireplace to burn cardboard boxes, trash or used wrapping paper in your fireplace.  Sparks from the burning paper can start chimney fires.
    • Remember to keep the flue open until the next day to make sure the fire is completely out.  Always dispose of the ashes in a metal container with a lid, placed outside and at least 10 feet from your home and any nearby buildings.  Ashes can retain heat for several hours and even until the next day.
    • Close the flue after the fire is out to keep the warmth inside and the cold air outside.


Heating Safety:

As you stay cozy and warm this winter, stay fire smart!  Heating is the second leading cause of home fires!

  • Plug only 1 heat-producing appliance (like a space heater) into an electrical outlet at a time.
  • Turn space heaters off when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Keep anything that can burn (including kids) at least 3 feet away from any heat source.
  • Never use your oven or stove to heat your home.


Post-Holiday Entertaining:

  • Test your smoke alarms and tell guests about your home fire escape plan (2-ways out of every room).  E.S.C.A.P.E. can connect anyone needing new smoke or carbon monoxide alarms with their local fire department.  Call 1-844-978-4400 for more details.
  • Never block exits (doors and windows) with holiday decorations, luggage from your guests, boxes or other obstacles.


By following these simple tips, we all will contribute to Keeping Michigan S.A.F.E.™

NOTE:  As of December 25th, 121 Michiganders have lost their lives in 100 fires throughout Michigan.  Every county in Southwest Michigan has experienced a fatal fire in the past 2-years.  The majority of deaths occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.

The 2020 fire death data resulted in a 21% increase during the same period in 2019 (Jan 1 – Dec 25).





The most wonderful time of the year is also the most likely time of the year for home fires. Home fires during the holiday season often involve space heaters, candles, holiday decorations and Christmas trees. By taking some preventative steps, using common sense, and following some simple rules, most home fires can be prevented during the H.O.L.I.D.A.Y. season and beyond.

Listen to the interview between E.S.C.A.P.E.‘s founder Firefighter Michael McLeieer and Morning Show host Ken Lanphear on WKZO AM 590 and FM 106.9 at 7:50 am on December 21, 2020.

  • Have a home safety escape plan, practice two ways out of every room. One way out could be a door and the second way out could be a window.
  • Outside – Go outside to your family meeting place when the smoke alarm sounds and during fire or smoke conditions.
  • Lighters and matches are tools for adults not toys for kids. Make sure you secure them out of the reach of young and curious hands.
  • Inspect holiday lights and wiring for damage. Replace defective accessories.
  • Detectors – Both smoke and carbon monoxide detectors make great gifts.
  • Always turn off a space heater and holiday lights when you go to bed or leave the room.
  • You can take charge of your holiday safety Where You Live!


‘Tis the season to water your Christmas tree daily to keep it from becoming dry. Also use care with candles and electric lights to keep this joyous time of year safe. More than 1 out of every 4 home Christmas tree fires is caused by electrical problems. A heat source too close to the tree causes 1 in every 4 of the fires.


  • Use flameless candles instead of real candles to prevent a home fire.
  • Create a 1-foot circle of safety (keeping anything that can burn away) if you decide to use real candles. Always blow out candles when you leave the room or go to bed.
  • Choose holiday decorations that are labeled flame retardant or not flammable.
  • Keep your live Christmas tree away from heat sources and room exits.
  • Place fireplace ashes in a metal container with a lid and place the container outside and away from buildings and other combustibles.

Remember as you deck the halls this season, be fire smart and don’t burn them down.



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.

Sweetsir School-11-13-2002-preschool 011

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.

JVS11-2003 04

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.