Due to recent fire statistics, Fire Inspector Tom Millerov is concerned about the safety of the community.
He said: “The numbers currently are above average for the number of fire fatalities per year in Michigan. So there is a really big push right now to remind people to make sure that they have a working smoke alarm in their home and to make sure that they are practicing fire safety and know how to get out of their home in case of an emergency.”
On Oct. 13, the Meridian Township Fire Department had its fire prevention open house where community members had the opportunity to visit the fire station and learn about fire prevention techniques.
Millerov said that this event is important because it allows kids to interact with the fire department in a nonemergency setting so that they can know what to do when an emergency does arise.
He said: “We go into schools all the time and we have firefighters put the gear and air pack on and that scares a lot of kids. We do not want kids trying to hide in a fire or anything like that. Them seeing us and being familiar with us will make them less scared of us in an emergency situation.”
Kids were able to practice their fire safety skills in a fire simulation trailer that mimics a home environment.
“You can go in there and it is set up like a house,” said Millerov. “One half of it is like a kitchen and the other half is like a bedroom.”
This trailer gave kids the opportunity to see what it is like when smoke comes into a home.
“We have a smoke machine in one of the closets and we can produce the pretend smoke from a fog machine,” said Lt. Al Diaz. “Then, we can talk about how we have to get low and crawl low and go and find a way out.”
Kids were taught how to find an alternate escape route when the fire is coming from behind the main doorway.
“You can feel a hot door and then go climb out a window,” said Millerov. “You learn how to navigate if your exit is blocked at home.”
Amanda Arnett, a firefighter and paramedic, said that using a fire hose was a big hit with the kids.
She said: “We have our little fake house that has little fires on the windows so the kids try to aim the stream right through the windows. It is just a fun hands-on way that the kids can come and play with the hose. We do not have the pressure set up really high so they are not going to get knocked down or anything like that.”
Interacting with Arnett taught kids that firefighting is a career that can be pursued by both men and women.
“A lot of times, parents will come up to me and say my kids have never seen a female firefighter so it is always nice to show the kids that there are also female firefighters,” said Arnett.
Ashley Shaffier, a Haslett resident, said that this event achieved a perfect balance of allowing her kids to have fun while also teaching practical life-saving knowledge.
She said: “I think it is giving them knowledge in a fun way where they retain it. Instead of like a boring lecture, they are getting to actually have a hands-on experience. Having somebody tell you how to use a fire extinguisher is a lot different than actually getting to use a fire extinguisher. It is not really practical for parents to set up a fake fire for kids to put out so I think it is giving them a lot of good hands-on experience.”