GREEN BAY AREA REGIONAL NEWS: Brown County

Green Bay’s 2019 Holiday Wreath Campaign ends with 14 red bulbs, up 10 from 2018

Green Bay Area Regional News

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) — The Green Bay Metro Fire Department ends every year with a Holiday Wreath Campaign, tracking residential fires during the holiday season.

The wreath starts out with 30 green bulbs, and for every residential fire, one bulb is changed out for a red one.

“What we’re trying to do is eliminate a lot of fires that can be preventable during the holiday season,” Lt. Shauna Walesh of the Green Bay Metro Fire Department explained.

In all, 14 qualifying fires took place between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day, up 10 from 2018’s four.

“This year was a really quiet year fire-wise, all the way up until the holiday season,” Lt. Walesh said.

Six of those 14 incidents were cooking fires, which Lt. Walesh said is common during the holiday season when families come together to eat.

“When there’s food, there’s cooking, and sometimes with family, relatives, friends, we get a little distracted,” she said.

Fire Department officials recommend residents take steps to prevent cooking fires, including:

  • Staying in the kitchen while cooking.
  • If you do have to step away from the stove, turn the burners on low or throw a towel over your shoulder as a reminder.
  • If a grease fire starts, turn the burner off and place a lid or cookie sheet over the burning pan.

As for the remaining eight bulbs, three of the fires were electrical, one was caused by an unattended candle, and four are still under investigation.

“We’d get one or two, then it would be a while,” Lt. Walesh said of the gradual transformation of the wreath, “and then all of a sudden we’d get three in one day.”

The wreaths were hung outside each fire station so the public could watch the bulbs change.

“We kind of try to get people in the mindset like, ‘what can we do to prevent that from happening to our home?'” Lt. Walesh said.

Altogether, the 14 bulbs represent about $400,000 in damages.

Firefighters hope the partially red wreaths serve as a reminder to practice fire safety and to stay safe.

“The biggest thing is to make sure you have working smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors in your home,” Lt. Walesh said, “because accidents do happen and we want people to make sure they get out safe and sound.”

The Appleton Fire Department also held a similar campaign that ended on New Year’s Day.

That campaign ended with just one red bulb.

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