Smoke was slowly billowing from the ceiling of the trailer, seeping through the windows. Within a few minutes nothing could be seen from inside without kneeling on the floor. This was the experience for people exploring the smoke house in the Bath Fire Department parking lot on Sunday Oct. sixth.
“The smoke house is a trailer that is basically set up like a small house, we can show kids smoke alarms and there’s an upper level that simulates a bedroom that they have to get out of,” Fire Chief Dave Snider said. “So, it’s a pretty cool learning aid and it gets heavy use this time of year.”
The trailer is generally used during October for fire prevention month. It’s property of Clinton County and is passed around the departments to use for their open houses or for school events. The smoke house was one of many things to be seen at the Bath Fire Department’s 90th anniversary open house, an event they try to do every year.
“Fire prevention week is the first full week of October,” Snider, 61, said “And because it’s the 90th anniversary, we’re trying to do something a little more than normal.”
The event involved lots of activities for children, from games to a bounce house. However, Snider said the event was for all ages, letting the community see what they do and what their taxes pay for. This helps give the department a chance to show the public its equipment and vehicles.
The open house was rewarding for the firefighters as well. Firefighter Mike Hawkins, 29, said he loves events like this.
“It’s just the atmosphere,” Hawkins said. “Getting everybody together is really cool, and it’s nice to see them outside of a work atmosphere.”
For Hawkins, one of the best parts is forming a good relationship with younger kids. He said that it helps the kids see they are human, and not people to be afraid of in an emergency situation.
The anniversary celebration didn’t attract residents from Bath alone. Lansing resident Chris Stauffer, a nursing student at Michigan State, saw the event on Facebook and decided to drop by.
“At one point I was thinking about becoming a firefighter,” Stauffer, 32, said. “So, the idea of an open house was appealing to me.”
There were also free items given out, as well as sold, by the fire association. These items ranged from plastic firefighter hats for kids to Bath Fire Department mugs and shirts. While the Bath Fire Department itself can’t take money directly as they are funded by taxes, the association can help raise funds to help firefighters.
Danielle Grider, whose boyfriend is a Bath firefighter, volunteered at the event, running one of the children’s games.
“It brings the community together and shows people what they do,” Grider, 27, said.