Petawawa FD hosts open house
Sean Chase/Daily Observer The Town of Petawawa Fire Department held an open house to mark Fire Prevention Week. Here two-year-old Colton Mulligan handles a hose like a real pro as his father, Corey, and firefighter Andrew Sword (right) look on. "Sparky" also gives young Colton a thumbs up.
PETAWAWA - Residents had a rare chance to see what life is like inside the Town of Petawawa Fire Department last week.
To mark Fire Prevention Week, the department hosted a special open house on Oct. 11 at their Victoria Street station. While highlighting the capabilities and heroics of our first responders, Fire Prevention Week is a teaching moment for the public at large with the hope that timely precautions will prevent future calamities thus saving lives and property.
“Every second counts, plan two ways out,” said Chief Steve Knott noting the biggest message out of an event like this is imploring households to have an escape plan in case of fire. “The plan is simple. Create it once and practice it on an annual basis.”
The department's arsenal of apparatus was on display in the parking lot of the town hall. In addition to the bunker gear and hoses, the open house demonstrated the capabilities of the fast water and ice water rescue unit, as well as the 'Jaws of Life,' which Petawawa introduced in the late 1970s before many regional fire departments considered specializing in heavy vehicle extrication equipment. The kids also had the chance to operate the thermal camera, try on their own bunker gear and meet “Sparky,” the department's mascot.
“We are just giving back to the community,” said firefighter Desiree L'Ecuyer, who co-ordinated the event. “We here to support them and we are here to help.”
The department continues to conduct school visits and supervise fire drills. Firefighters also try to educate residents about changing the batteries in their smoke and CO2 detectors – noting that when you set back the clock it's a good time to change those batteries. Knott said personnel will also visit residents who are senior citizens and ensure they have workable smoke detectors. Those appointments can be arranged by simply calling the town hall.
More importantly the department continues to hammer away at how critical a fire escape plan is for any home or business. L'Ecuyer said the plan should identify all possible exits (doors and windows) and make sure they work, ensuring that the home's occupants know two ways out of all areas, if possible.
In home fire escape planning, you should assess the needs of everyone in your home; identify anyone who requires assistance to get out of the home safely, such as small children or older adults. Everyone must know what to do when the smoke alarm sounds; assign someone to help those who need assistance. Identify a safe meeting place outside preferably across the street. Every member of a household should practice the home fire escape plan at least twice a year.
Fire Prevention Week began after the Great Chicago Fire of 1871 which is said to have started after Catherine O'Leary's cow kicked over a lantern. That monumental tragedy burned up 10 square kilometres, killed more than 250 people and left 100,000 homeless. National Fire Prevention Week was first observed on the 40th anniversary of the fire in 1911. Canada's governor general proclaimed the first Fire Prevention Day in 1919, seven years before President Coolidge did the same in the U.S.