Prevention & Safety

Public Education Programs

The Sterling Fire Department's concern regarding fire prevention and safety has led to the formation of several public education programs. Each year, the Sterling Fire Department provides programs to both the public and private schools in Sterling. Further, there are a number of programs that have been developed for local businesses and groups. Among the programs offered are:

  • Business inspections
  • Fire extinguisher classes
  • Fire Safety House demonstrations
  • Fire safety talks
  • Smoke detector safety talks

If your group, organization, or school would like to learn more about fire prevention and safety, please contact the Sterling Fire Department to set up a meeting at 815-632-6680.

Smoke Detectors

  • Choose smoke alarms that have the label of a recognized testing laboratory.
  • Install smoke alarms inside each bedroom, outside each sleeping area and on every level of the home, including the basement.
  • On levels without bedrooms, install alarms in the living room (or den or family room) or near the stairway to the upper level, or in both locations.
  • Smoke alarms installed in the basement should be installed on the ceiling at the bottom of the stairs leading to the next level.
  • Smoke alarms should be installed at least 10 feet (3 meters) from a cooking appliance to minimize false alarms when cooking.
  • Mount smoke alarms high on walls or ceilings (remember, smoke rises). Wall-mounted alarms should be installed not more than 12 inches away from the ceiling (to the top of the alarm).
  • If you have ceilings that are pitched, install the alarm within 3 feet of the peak but not within the apex of the peak (four inches down from the peak).
  • Test smoke alarms at least once a month using the test button.
  • Make sure everyone in the home understands the sound of the smoke alarm and knows how to respond.
  • Smoke alarms with non-replaceable 10-year batteries are designed to remain effective for up to 10 years. If the alarm chirps, warning that the battery is low, replace the entire smoke alarm right away.
  • Smoke alarms with any other type of battery need a new battery at least once a year. If that alarm chirps, warning the battery is low, replace the battery right away.
  • When replacing a battery, follow the manufacturer’s list of batteries on the back of the alarm or manufacturer’s instructions. The manufacturer’s instructions are specific to the batteries (brand and model) that must be used. The smoke alarm may not work properly if a different kind of battery is used.

Carbon Monoxide Detectors 

Because carbon monoxide is slightly lighter than air and also because it may be found with warm, rising air, detectors should be placed on a wall about 5 feet above the floor. The detector may be placed on the ceiling. Do not place the detector right next to or over a fireplace or flame-producing appliance. Keep the detector out of the way of pets and children. Each floor needs a separate detector. If you are getting a single carbon monoxide detector, place it near the sleeping area and make certain the alarm is loud enough to wake you up.

A Sterling Firefighter & children holding up Fire Safety Class certificatesFire Safety for Kindergarten

The goal of this program is to instruct children at the earliest age about fire safety and the importance of not playing with fire.


The Kindergarten Fire Safety class started in the 1995/1996 school year. The Fire Department approached the Sterling School District and informed them of their idea to teach fire safety to the Kindergarten classes once a month through the entire school year. Two teachers, Karen Harris and Susan Seggebruch, put the program together. They are both still teaching kindergarten in the Sterling school system.


The Fire Safety classes start off with an introduction into the firefighter life and what gear firefighters wear, and then:

  • In October, the Fire Department teaches Stop, Drop, and Roll and how to escape from a bedroom if one's house is on fire. The Fire Department tries to use the Fire Department Safety House with this activity.
  • In November, the Fire Department teaches kids the importance of learning their address, not only for calling 911 in an emergency, but in case they become lost and need help finding their way home.
  • In December the Fire Department teaches holiday safety lessons. These lessons are about all the dangers associated with the holidays such as the Fourth of July, Halloween, Christmas and everyone's "special day" (their birthday).
  • January is 911 month, in which the Fire Department teaches students how to make a call and who they can call using 911 for an emergency.
  • February is "Tools and Toys" month. The Fire Department teaches students about certain tools (matches and lighters) and why they should not touch these tools.
  • During March, the Fire Department holds a class on smoke detectors and they make all the students "Smoke Detector Detectives."
  • April is a review month in which the Fire Department shows the "Be Cool About Fire Safety Video."
  • In May, the students get a tour of the Sterling Main Station.

Business Inspections

Businesses are inspected once a year and must be inspected for an initial occupancy permit.  To schedule an inspection or for questions regarding your inspection please call the main station at 815-632-6680.  Here are some items a business will be checked for. 

  • Extension cords
  • Clear paths of egress
  • Emergency lighting and exit lighting 
  • Fire Extinguishers (placement, size and inspected)
  • Fire alarm panels
  • Sprinkler systems 
  • Proper storage of combustibles 
  • Proper occupant load

Sparky the Fire DogSparky

The official Sparky the Fire Dog ® website allows kids to explore and learn about fire safety in a safe and interactive environment. The popular ad-free site features sections for children of all ages, even providing voice-overs for younger children who cannot read yet. The diverse activities range from:

  • Cartoons
  • Family activities
  • A fire truck section
  • Parent and educator information
  • Seasonal Sparky e-cards for kids to send to friends and family