The Asa Tuten Memorial – GFSA Essay Contest for 2018 has ended. Thank you to all who participated.
The first place winner of a $1500 scholarship is Lauren at Brantley County High School
The second place winner of a $1000 scholarship is Kaitlyn at West Forsyth High School
The third place winner of a $750 scholarship is Leah at Carrollton High School
The scholarship will be paid directly to the educational institution in the student’s account.
The Essay Theme for 2018: Discuss the Importance of having your Life Safety Systems inspected, tested and maintained including Fire Sprinklers, Fire Alarms and Fire Extinguishers.
The first place essay by Lauren:
Most people go to great lengths to protect their children and loved ones. We place children in car seats when riding in cars and educate them on stranger danger. What is not always thought of are the dangers in our own home. “More than 3,000 people perish in fires each year, and ironically, more than 80% of those fire deaths occur in the very place where we feel safest – our own homes.”  House fires can be absolutely devastating, but mostly preventable if we follow the total system of fire safety. Many of us know the importance of having fire alarms placed throughout our house to warn us in the event of a fire, but many may not perform the simple tasks that are required to keep fire alarms working properly as one of our first alerts. Home fire sprinkler systems are becoming more popular and are one of the most effective and immediate ways to protect your family and property by suppressing the fire and allowing more time to escape. Fire extinguishers are normally found in most businesses but is absolutely necessary to help protect your home in the event of a small fire, as well. However; many people do not realize how easy, inexpensive, and crucial it is to have these life safety systems in place, inspected, tested and maintained to ensure their family’s safety and the protection of their home and valuables.
Smoke alarms work by sensing large amounts of smoke and provide the warning for occupants to get out of the residence. Homes should have interconnected smoke alarms that all sound throughout the home if even only one detects large amounts of smoke. They should run off battery back-ups, and since most home fires occur at night when people are sleeping, the smoke alarms should be in every bedroom, outside every bedroom, and on every floor of the home and throughout the house. It is crucial to make sure your smoke alarm is in working order at all times. At least once a month, use the test button to verify that the smoke detector is in proper working order. Some alarms need batteries replaced once a year, and the smoke alarms themselves need to be replaced every ten years. Never make the mistake of taking down or disabling fire alarms if they happen to persistently alert during cooking or very hot showers. The hush button on the alarm should be used to silence the alarm or new alarms should be purchased and installed in the proper areas of the home. Even though smoke alarms has saved countless lives, a smoke alarm can only detect, not control a fire. The fire alarm can only do its job to alert residents if they have been properly tested and maintained. Essentially, a few minutes of our time to maintain the smoke detectors’ working order could mean life or death for us and our families.
Smoke alarms are certainly life savers to many, but very young children and the elderly that are immobile or slow to leave the house do not stand a chance with a fast moving fire that produces deadly smoke and gases within minutes. Automatic fire sprinklers are becoming widely recognized as the most effective method to contain and extinguish fires before they get out of the room and cause harm to us or family members. “Fire is fast, giving you fewer than three minutes to escape, but fire sprinklers buys time and buys life.”  “The risk of dying decreases by about 80% when sprinklers are present.”  Contrary to popular belief, smoke detectors and smoke do not set off the sprinklers. Only high heat of a fire will set off the sprinklers closest to the fire, and not throughout the house. “AFSA believes that the installation of fire sprinklers could save thousands of lives and billions of dollars lost to fire each year.”  “Modern homes burn 8 times faster than older homes.”  In newly built homes, fire sprinkler systems should be a necessity due to the more flammable products being used today. The properly installed fire sprinkler would be inexpensive in the overall cost of the home, and be a sense of security for the family.
There should be one or more working fire extinguisher in a house because many are only designed for one use and cannot be recharged. Fire extinguishers are essential when a small fire is not spreading, and the fire department has already been called for help. Fire extinguishers need to be attached high on the wall, near an exit, and away from heat sources. Fire extinguishers should only be used by adults trained to use them, and then the PASS acronym should be remembered to successfully use the extinguisher.
Fire sprinklers and smoke alarms together cut your risk of dying in a home fire by 80%…”  House fires are easily preventable, and smoke alarms, fire sprinklers, and fire extinguishers can significantly reduce the risk of injuries, deaths and damaged property according to the overwhelming statistics in their favor. The importance of having life safety systems inspected, tested and maintained are absolutely paramount in protecting the ones we love and our homes. Smoke alarms and fire extinguishers are our first defenses to warn us of a fire and help us contain and extinguish small fires, but fire sprinkler systems are the best defense to maintain and extinguish fires before the fire department can even arrive at our homes. These safety precautions that we can take to protect our most valuable possessions are inexpensive and also priceless in maintaining a sense of peace and security.