by Philip R. Richardson
Asst. Fire Chief and Public Information Officer
It's that time of year again - the time of year where warm apple cider warms you up inside, when Mother Nature cools you off outside. It's also the time of year where fire departments nationwide participate in a weeklong schedule of activities aimed at educating people of all ages on the importance of fire safety, prevention and preparedness.
This year's message from the National Fire Protection Association was "Protect Your Family From Fire." To help drive home this message, the St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Co., with assistance from many surrounding mutual aid companies, presented a full day of fire prevention and preparedness activities to students and teachers at Errick Road Elementary School on Wednesday, Oct. 12. The day started off with an evacuation drill for the students, teachers and staff. The evacuation went very well, and allowed firefighters to see how well the school's preparation and practice has paid off, as the evacuation was complete in a matter of minutes with no missing students or injuries reported. The school is credited with the smooth outcome of the evacuation drill, and shows that practice does indeed make perfect!
As the day progressed, students were educated on fire safety and preparedness with informative assemblies, videos, tours of fire trucks and the chance to crawl through a smoke house to refine their skills of "get low, stay low, and get out." Students also enjoyed a visit by Sparky the Fire Dog.
In the evening, we hosted our annual Fire Prevention Open House. This event was aimed at educating all ages on the importance of fire safety, preparedness and education. The open house had informative displays, handouts, activities and demonstrations from our agency and many other outside agencies, as well. Tri-Community Ambulance was on hand to take blood pressures so people could have an idea where they stand with their "vital signs," and also learn more about what each number meant.
The evening concluded with two live demonstrations. The first demonstration was a motor vehicle accident simulation. At 7:30 p.m., St. Johnsburg Fire and Tri-Community Ambulance were "dispatched" to a motor vehicle accident in our rear parking lot. Once on location, our incident commander realized the severity of the two-car collision and called for an additional company to "respond" to assist with extrication. The live demonstration was centered on the potential negative outcomes of distracted driving. Our guests were able to see all companies in action, and were able to hear the radio communications between our crews and our dispatcher, and hear the requests for a second ambulance, second rescue company and eventually the coroner.
The second live demonstration was from the U.S. Air Force Fire Department from the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, who showed off their capabilities with their crash truck and the volumes of water they can pump while driving forward.
This year was again a very successful year for the St. Johnsburg Fire Co. in our efforts to educate all ages on the importance of fire safety, prevention and emergency preparedness. Our agency wants to thank the many local companies and responders that stepped forward to assist us with this large endeavor. We were able to be successful thanks to the assistance from Adams Volunteer Fire Co., Shawnee Volunteer Fire Co., Wendelville Volunteer Fire Co., Tri-Community Ambulance, Niagara County Sheriff's Office, Niagara County CERT, WNY MercyFlight, Niagara-Wheatfield School District, Robin Zastrow as our assembly speaker, Gary Hunt, and Fred Ohlson as Sparky the Fire Dog. We also would like to extend our sincere thanks to local businesses that helped us make this a very successful year - Tim Hortons, Liberty Mutual Insurance, Kach's Towing and Ray Simmons.
If you have questions regarding fire safety, or would like information on how you can help your community, contact Asst. Chief Phil Richardson at 946-7215 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.