October 26, 2018

Activities galore for Fire Prevention Month outreach in Raymond

Firefighter John reads to children at Raymond Village Library
By Briana Bizier

For young children, few things are as exciting as a fire truck!

This October, the Raymond Fire Department used children’s inherent love of fire trucks to spread a message of fire safety and prevention while also having a bit of fun. Firefighters from Raymond visited the Raymond Village Library, Raymond Elementary School and three daycare centers as well as hosting an Open House at the Public Works Building.

We’re happy to do this kind of outreach,” firefighter John Facella told the parents and preschoolers
gathered at the Raymond Village Library on Wednesday, October 10. “Does anyone know why October is Fire Prevention Month?”

This journalist’s guess that October is when people begin using their wood stoves was quite mistaken. In October of 1871, Facella explained, the great Chicago fire burned for three days, destroying thousands of buildings and claiming hundreds of lives. After that tragedy, October was declared Fire Prevention Month.

Facella carried on Raymond Fire Department’s long-running tradition of talking to preschoolers at the library about what firefighters do. He read two classic books, including “Sam the Firehouse Cat”,
before leading the children and their parents outside for a tour of a real firetruck.

https://www.facebook.com/jongalefordistrictattorney/While the toddlers and preschoolers took turns holding an enormous flashlight and sitting behind the wheel of the firetruck, Facella reminded the parents of a few basic fire prevention tips, including making sure the address of your home is clearly visible from the road so emergency vehicles are able to quickly locate your house.

The Raymond Fire Department also visited Raymond Elementary School later that week.
It was awesome!” my eight-year-old assistant reported when I asked about the fire department’s visit.

They brought the smoke house,” she told me, describing the fire department’s camper trailer used for training exercises. “And we practiced how to get out of bed if there’s a fire, so we don’t breathe all the smoke. Then we went in the fire safety kitchen and looked for problems.”
Were there any problems?” I asked.

Mom! It was terrible!” she reported. “There was aluminum foil in the microwave, and a plastic bowl on the stove, and yarn on the burner!”

I guess you won’t be putting any yarn on the burners in our kitchen,” I said.
Never!” she gasped.

Clearly, Raymond Fire Department’s message of fire safety reached my third grader.

On Wednesday, October 17, the fire department hosted an Open House at Raymond’s enormous Public Works Building on Roosevelt Trail. This open house was a wonderful opportunity for children and their parents to see fire fighters in action. With all their fire-fighting gear, the firefighters look almost inhuman and, honestly, they can be a bit intimidating. Hopefully, allowing small children to see a fully outfitted firefighter in a safe and fun atmosphere means they may be less frightened in the case of a real emergency. At the open house, as well as at the elementary school and the day cares, the fire department does show children what a fully clothed firefighter looks like so that they don’t hide in the event of an emergency.

The Open House also allowed children to participate in some serious firefighting fun, including squirting a fire hose which shoots fifty gallons of water a minute at brightly painted wooden building “on fire.” I decided it was part of my journalistic responsibility to shoot the fire hose, and now I can safely say it was every bit as fun as it sounds.

Children also had the chance to use a fire extinguisher on a real fire of safely-contained Sterno fuel. As the children waited patiently for their chance to aim and shoot the extinguisher, firefighters asked the crowd if they had an emergency escape plan for their house and a safe, outdoor meeting place for the family. I was delighted when both my assistants said they had an outdoor meeting place, but slightly less thrilled when they gave two different locations (you’re supposed to have just one). The Open House was an excellent reminder that we needed to refresh our family escape plan.

After a dinner of hot dogs and potato chips, which my children are convinced is the world’s most
perfect dinner, we watched the Raymond Fire Department demonstrate their lifesaving extraction equipment on an old Buick.

It’s a chaotic looking scene, but everyone has a job,” the announcer explained as two firefighters maneuvered the Jaws of Life around the driver’s side door and a third removed the windshield.
The night filled with appreciative gasps as the firefighters removed the Buick’s windshield. A few moments later, the Jaws of Life peeled open the car’s door.

Wow, look at that big clamp opening the door,” I told my four-year-old assistant.

Yeah,” he said, “instead of using the handle!”

The Open House wrapped up at 8 p.m. Children made fire truck noises and wore red plastic firefighter hats as they headed home, where many of their parents, myself included, checked the batteries in their smoke alarms before going to bed.

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