Operation Red Wreath Could Save Lives in Columbia

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COLUMBIA - Residents can rest easy when the wreath outside of Fire Station One glistens red. The Columbia Fire Station's " Operation Red Wreath" began Thursday to encourage holiday safety regarding fires.

A large wreath dressed with red lights is outside the fire station. When a fire is sparked by a holiday related accident a red bulb will be replaced by a white bulb.

Assistant Fire Chief Terry Cassil said this is exactly about awareness.

"If people are aware of the hazards we think that they're going to be a little more careful with those hazards. When it comes to the unattended cooking, open flames, exterior lighting and extension chords that we all like to use to make the outside lights and the Christmas tree work." said Cassil.

Some of the most common holiday practices serve as the biggest problems. A growing hazard is deep frying turkeys.

"It's done in garages many times because it's cold. It's also very dangerous if left unattended. Many of those fryers are not UL rated so we need to be very very careful make sure those are attended in all times" added Cassil.

Tips from the Fire Department:

  • Consistently water natural Christmas trees in your home.
  • Do not leave open flames like candles or fire places unattended.
  • Beware of leaving cooking unattended.
  • Use extra care with electrical extension cords and decorative lights.

Cassil said the Fire Department understands that people have many other things on their mind at this time of year.

"With traveling and all the gifts we buy and all of the get togethers and all of the things we have to do to make this season happy and joyous that these things need to be brought to the forefront. For us its second nature for other folks it kind of slips through the cracks." said Cassil.

Operation Red Wreath will run through the first week of January.

Last year residents kept the wreath red all season.