SYCAMORE – When Becky Hepker, secretary for Sycamore Fire Department, wants to bring color with her holiday lights to her neighborhood, she said she thinks about fire safety, which is just what local firefighters want others to do this holiday season.
The annual Red Wreath Program, which began Thanksgiving Day and will run through Jan. 2, is a program that is intended to keep people aware of fire safety when decorating the inside and outside of their houses.
Art Zern, deputy fire chief for Sycamore Fire Department, said a wreath placed on the front of each of Sycamore Fire Department's two stations, will begin with red bulbs on each wreath. If there is an accident directly related to the holidays, such as a short in a holiday light cord that causes a fire or an overloaded power strip that causes a fire, the department will change a red bulb to a white bulb.
"The idea is to bring attention to promoting safety for the holidays and to pay specific attention to safety," Zern said. Sycamore residents have been fairly safe recently.
"In the last 10 years, we've only had two occasions to change the bulbs to white," he said. "Other than that, there haven't been any for 10 years. That's the good news."
The program started in 1954 in Naperville, Zern said. He said in 1980 the Illinois Fire Chiefs endorsed the "Keep the Wreath Red," program. While not everybody participates in the program, Zern said it's pretty widespread throughout the Chicago suburbs.
"We just want to stress the idea of the program and for everybody to be diligent throughout the holidays," Zern said.
He said make sure any holiday light cords are undamaged before using them.
"Make sure the insulation hasn't worn away," Zern said. "You want to make sure the cords aren't worn."
He said if there's damage to any part of the cord, don't try to fix it yourself, buy a new cord. Buy the new plug. He also advised against overloading electrical circuits.
"If the circuit pops, don't just reset it," Zern said. "It popped for a reason."
For information on holiday safety, please call the Sycamore Fire Department at 815-895-4514, or visit the department's Facebook page.