October is National Fire Prevention Month

Published October 11, 2022

Newport News Shipbuilding Fire Marshal Troy Long is always focused on fires. He’s responsible for ensuring proper fire protection across the shipyard and investigating any fires that occur. But he’d rather prevent fires – along with any possible injuries or loss of property – before they happen.

“We’re all in this together, and we want to make sure everybody goes home the same way they came to work,” he said. “Fire prevention is key, and we all have to be proactive and not reactive.”

Long is part of NNS’ Fire Prevention Office along with Zena Lewis, an inspector, and Emmett Mathews, who works on drills for ships and submarines. As NNS recognizes National Fire Prevention Month in October, Long encourages shipbuilders to think about how they can help prevent or mitigate fires.

Fire extinguishers – which are inspected monthly – are located across the shipyard. “No matter where people are working, everyone should know the type of extinguisher they have in their area, where it is located, how to use it, and what they should use it on,” he said. “Also, everyone should be familiar with their emergency action plan and know how to safely exit in the event of an emergency.”

Using approved appliances, practicing good housekeeping, and following company policies and procedures can significantly help in preventing or mitigating fires. “Many of the fires we have involve combustible materials such as paper, cardboard and trash,” Long said. “If we all practice good housekeeping we can greatly reduce the risk of fires.”

While his focus is on the shipyard, Long said shipbuilders should also be vigilant about fire prevention and mitigation off the clock as well. At home, be sure to have working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms and a Class K fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Check with your local fire marshal’s office or fire department, as some may provide and install smoke alarms at no cost for residents who do not have them.

Long warns against complacency at work and at home, which is often a factor in fires. “We’re creatures of habit, we don’t want to become complacent, it could lead to injuries or fires,” he said.

Download a fire safety checklist from the American Red Cross at redcross.org.