Francisco Lerma is the father of reporter Amanda Lerma. Working as a firefighter for the past 12 years, he discusses the issue of safety in the event of a disaster.
Q: What is your best tip for keeping safe?
A: “Always keep an eye out on your surroundings. Pay attention to what’s going on, and if there are any possible life hazards or questionable dangers you could be walking into.”
Q: What are safety precautions firefighters must take in the event of a fire?
A: “Safety precautions for fires range from knowing the type of construction that residential homes may have, and also commercial buildings, whether that’s from a strip mall to a high-rise building. [I also make sure to] have all of my safety equipment ready and in working condition prior to each shift and after every use.”
Q: When are evacuations typically called?
A: “Evacuating the area is based off multiple factors: the type and amount of fuel that is being burned, even the weather; if the wind is very strong in nature and pushing the fire at a rapid rate of speed; and the location of your home in regards to how the fire is burning.”
Q: When is the best time to evacuate in case of an emergency?
A: “As soon as authorities state that mandatory evacuations are needed, you should definitely get out as soon as you can. If it’s only voluntarily evacuations, you may want to start to get all your personal belongings and family keepsakes packed and be ready to leave, or just leave them in order to not get stuck in the mass pandemonium that occurs when everyone tries to leave at the same time.”
Q: Anything else on evacuating premises?
A: “For structure fires inside a home or building, you want to get out as soon as possible and do not re-enter for any reason whatsoever.”
Q: Where can people find shelter after evacuations?
A: “Usually, whatever government authorities that are involved in the fire set up evacuation sites at local schools, community centers, or some type of secured building that would be able to house persons for sleeping conditions.”