The Monroe Fire Department welcomed a total of 844 guests to its annual Fire Prevention Week open house this weekend.
Families were allowed to ride in a fire truck, explore the inside of an EMS unit, spray water from a fire hose, use a fire extinguisher and spend time with Sparky the Fire Dog, all while learning about fire prevention and the importance of smoke detectors during the event, held 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10.
This year's running theme was "hear the beep where you sleep,GÇ¥ a slogan developed by the National Fire Protection Association, to signify the importance of having a working smoke detector in every bedroom.
Guests were greeted by Monroe Fire District No. 3 Chief Jamie Silva, and allowed to navigate the entire department while meeting firefighters, asking questions and learning about fire safety. Out in the apparatus bay, several educational tools were set up, including the department's safety trailer and Sparky's Hazard House.-á
Sparky's Hazard House is more than four feet tall and approximately seven feet in length. Constructed to include all the features of a four-story family home, the hazard house featured realistic special effects including lighting, sounds, smoke and flames. Firefighter Ray Sayah gave presentations at the Hazard House throughout the day, teaching kids to crawl underneath the smoke in the case of a fire and how to feel doors to test for heat before trying to open them.-á
Sayah heads up Monroe Fire District 3's Explorer program, which has been ongoing since the start of the school year. The program allows Monroe teens ages 14 -18 to interactively learn what it's like to be a firefighter, including hose handling, knots, principles of emergency medicine and rescue tactics. The group meets 7-9 p.m. every Thursday at the Monroe Fire Department, and Sayah is currently seeking additional members.
"Right now we're recruiting,GÇ¥ Sayah said. "We're up to like eight kids, and I wouldn't mind four or five more.GÇ¥
Volunteers from Monroe's Explorer program assisted at the open house throughout the day.
Inside the department's full-size safety trailer, firefighter Zac Forghani and his sister, Megan, gave kids interactive lessons on how to identify and mitigate hazards in the home. The safety trailer is a converted mobile trailer set up to mimic the inside of a family home, complete with a realistic fireplace, stove and bedroom area. Once kids were settled in the mock kitchen, Forghani quizzed them on several different hazards, including an electrical cord in the sink, a fork in the microwave, a rag by the stove and a towel placed too close to the fireplace.
He taught them how and when to call 911, and even let one of the young guests go through the process of what an actual 911 call would be like. During the drill, the safety trailer produced mock "smoke,GÇ¥ for an added sense of realism.
In the bedroom area, firefighter Justin Bradley taught kids to use a towel to prevent the "smokeGÇ¥ from entering the room from underneath the door, and demonstrated how to feel the door with their hands to test for heat. Kids were able to "escapeGÇ¥ the bedroom by calling for help and going out through a window.
Firefighter and fire commissioner candidate Randy Woolery spent the day helping kids use an actual firehose, while volunteers from the Explorer program gave older children the opportunity to put out a "fireGÇ¥ using a fire extinguisher. Fire truck rides took place all throughout the day.
New to the open house this year was an informational presentation on wildland firefighting, given by Capt. Ron Adams. Adams has 25 years of experience fighting wildland fires, which takes a special certification called an Incident Qualification Card, also known as a Red Card. Each year, Red Card certified firefighters have to maintain their certification with additional training, and are required to engage in wildland firefighting at least once every five years.
Adams, who is part of an interagency team that fights wildland fires, spent 64 days this year fighting wildfires located in northeastern Washington.
All guests were invited to enjoy a free slice of pizza from Monroe's Sahara Pizza, which donated enough food to accommodate 844 enthusiastic guests. The pizza was served by Monroe Planning Commissioner and Sahara Pizza manager Bridgette Tuttle and her daughter, Rylee, a freshman at Monroe High School.
The open house event was coordinated by firefighter/paramedic Kurt Schneider and administrative assistant and GIS specialist Elsa Sexton, with support from the entire department.-á -á -á -á -á
"Saturday was a great day. Despite the rain storm, we had a great turn out,GÇ¥ Sexton said. "Our sincere hope is that everyone who attended the open house had a great time and learned some safety or fire prevention information that will protect them or their loved ones in the future.GÇ¥
For more information about the Monroe Fire Department, visit www.monroefire.org. For more information about Monroe's Explorer program, email Ray Sayah at email@example.com.