Fire Prevention Week: Start Small & Think Big

Mention "October" and you evoke thoughts of cool days, autumn leaves and Halloween. For firefighters, October also brings to mind Fire Prevention Week. Photo courtesy of Livonia Fire & Rescue As part of a fire department open house...


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Mention "October" and you evoke thoughts of cool days, autumn leaves and Halloween. For firefighters, October also brings to mind Fire Prevention Week.

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Photo courtesy of Livonia Fire & Rescue
As part of a fire department open house program, a firefighter shows a youngster how to use a hoseline to knock down a fire in a "flame house." A 1 1/2-inch hose with hydrant pressure is usually sufficient to dramatically emphasize how heavy a hoseline can be.

Many fire departments make an effort to educate the public in fire safety throughout the year; however, Fire Prevention Week is a major event for the fire service, with many businesses, service groups and the media providing additional support for fire safety activities. The fire department can take advantage of this by organizing an open house in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week.

For most people, dealing with the fire department involves a catastrophe a motor vehicle accident or a car or house fire. An open house lets them see the firefighters in a different, less stressful light. This article will address many issues to help you start, rejuvenate or enhance your efforts in this area. Customize and personalize these suggestions for whatever works best in your community. Start small, see how it goes, and keep a clipboard handy to jot down ideas on how it can get bigger and better next time.

Hoseline Usage

Did you ever try knocking over a target at a shooting gallery at the county fair? Even if you didn't win a prize, it was fun trying. Setting up a "shooting" gallery for the public, using a fire hose as the weapon, can be just as much fun...and everyone can be a winner.

A 1 1/2-inch hose with hydrant pressure is usually sufficient to dramatically emphasize how heavy a hoseline can be, and stream reach is impressive to non-firefighting citizens. With a "target" to hit, the user can feel a sense of accomplishment.

You will need a three-foot length of string, a beach ball and a traffic cone. Inflate the beach ball and attach one end of the string to the inflation valve. Cut the traffic cone about halfway to allow the beach ball to easily rest on it. Drill a small hole near the top of the cone and attach the other end of the string from the beach ball. Rest the beach ball on the cone, then invite visitors to test their skill at handling the fire hose.

This event requires two "helpers" one to assist with handling the hose, and one to replace the ball each time it's knocked off the cone.

Another option is to create a "flame house." While this costs a bit more, it's more impressive and doesn't require the same amount of personnel to staff.

For a simple flame house you will need three pieces of plywood (four-by-four-foot sheets work well) hinged together to form the front and two sides, then painted to look like a house. Cut and paint a smaller piece of plywood to took like a flame and hinge this to the top or side of your "house" so that it will lay down backwards when hit by a stream of water. Attach a 25-foot length of string or light line to the top of the "flame." Invite someone to handle the hose and knock down some flame. When the flame has been knocked down, merely pull on the line (which can be attached to the controlling firefighter's foot or wrist) to reset it.

Elaborate flame houses can be two story homes, sided, roofed and trimmed in a scaled-down version. The flame, or flames (one in each of several openings in the house) can be hinged on light tension so that the flame will fall under the hose pressure and automatically reset after just a few seconds.

Pet Fire Dog

A firefighter in a dalmatian suit can be a cute mascot that can provide numerous "photo opportunities" for visitors but dalmatian costumes are usually sized for children. Choose a different mascot of your own design. Whatever you decide, it should be a "fun by nature" mascot that will liven up the children. If possible, the mascot should relate to firefighting. In Livonia, we wanted to have a dalmatian for our mascot but didn't have a big budget. By locating handy people (usually not too hard to find in the fire station...and don't overlook the spouses) we were able to have the mascot we wanted.

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Photo courtesy of Livonia Fire & Rescue
A contest to "Name the Pet Fire Dog" can attract attention to an open house. In this program, the winner received a Livonia Fire & Rescue Care Bear as a prize.
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