Mt Pleasant News
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Wash Journal   Fairfield Ledger
Neighbors Growing Together | Oct 21, 2017

MP Fire Department’s open house brings scores of families

Event celebrated National Fire Safety Prevention Week
Oct 12, 2017
Photo by: Grace King Students felt the weight of the firefighter’s equiptment as they played dress up, putting on the boots, pants, coat, oxygen tank and finally, helmet.

By Grace King, Mt. Pleasant News

 

A volunteer firefighter guided the fire hose as six-year-old Yareli Aranda put her little hands on the lever and discharged the high pressure water at a cutout of a house on fire. She bounced away and let the next student in line take a turn, sharing the excitement with her parents with a huge smile on her face during the open house at the Mt. Pleasant Fire Department on Wednesday, Oct. 11.

“It was heavy,” Aranda said shyly, adding that the firefighters had come to her school that week and taught her how to “stop, drop and roll” in the event of a fire.

The annual open house is a part of the fire departments efforts to promote National Fire Prevention Week, which runs from Oct. 8 to 14 this year. After firefighters visited elementary classrooms in the Mt. Pleasant Community School District on Monday and Tuesday, students were invited to the fire department to try on firefighter gear, step into the firetruck, and experience a simulation of smoke in a house fire.

“A lot of what we go over at the open house is what is touched on during the school tours,” firefighter Ben Calhoun said. “This is more in depth and enforcing what students learn.”

The hands-on experience of practicing “stop, drop and roll” on the fire department’s bouncy house and learning how to crawl to a window if a room fills with smoke is a way to get students to think proactively about fire prevention in their own homes.

Just outside the fire station sits the simulation smoke house. Inside the door, students sat on the floor of the kitchen as a firefighter asked them what fire hazards they saw in the room.

One student pointed out the clothes sitting on the stove.

Another noticed the smoke detector was not on the ceiling.

When asked by the firefighter what their smoke detector at home sounds like, the children erupted in beeping, wailing and whooping alarm sounds.

When it was time for the students to enter the smoke room, some of them decided they weren’t quite ready for the experience and went out the side door with their parents. Inside the smoke room, firefighters talked to students about how to feel if a door is hot and to keep it shut if it is so they don’t add oxygen to the fire or let it more smoke into the room. The firefighter asked what should be done next if the door is hot.

“Go to a window,” a bright little girl was quick to respond.

The simulation was two-part: Turning the light of and having the students stand to see how difficult it was to see in a smoke-filled room, and then having them get down on their hands and knees to a place where it was easier to see and where there was more oxygen.

When a couple of the students were frightened by the fake smoke and the loud blaring smoke detector, firefighters invited them to hold their hands.

Back in the fire house, firefighters were helping students put on gear, dressing them in oversized pants and coats, putting oxygen tanks on their backs and carefully placing a helmet on their heads so it didn’t fall over their eyes.

“It lets them get an idea of what the gear feels like,” firefighter Charles Swailes said. “What we have to go through (in event of a fire) and what we wear.”

Lifted out of the firefighter boots and pants, Hunter Remillard grabbed the plastic firefighter hat students got after trying on all the gear and said he felt like a real firefighter.

Julia Schaefer, who was helping her daughter into the firetruck to sit in the drivers’ seat, said that she appreciated the opportunity to allow her children to feel comfortable with the firefighters if they were ever in a situation where they needed rescuing.

The firehouse was packed with students and their parents throughout the entire open house, with firefighters saying there was a slight uptick in attendance this year.

“We’ve noticed too as the (attendance) numbers go up, fires go down,” firefighter Ryan Ackles said.

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