by Ray Pauley
Public Information Officer
Grand Island Fire Co.
More than 1,500 Sidway Elementary school students and Fire Prevention Open House visitors flocked to Grand Island Fire Headquarters Thursday, Oct. 9, to learn more about their Grand Island Fire Co. volunteers, fire and emergency medical services equipment and overall operation procedures.
Morning and afternoon student sessions emphasized "stop, drop and roll" exercises, 911 dispatch familiarization, emergency medical services lifesaving demonstrations, firefighter use of protective gear, and specialized fire truck tools and equipment.
Evening open house visitors viewed a spectacular live fire demo, as a simulated living room fire erupted into a blazing inferno within a scant few minutes, a stark reminder of the urgency of exiting a burning structure without delay. It was pointed out that the burning of man-made materials creates poisonous gases, such as hydrogen cyanide, which can kill without warning.
In addition to fun stuff, such as hose practice for kids, many agencies contributed to the program, including the New York State Police, Erie County Sheriff's Office, Erie County hazardous materials team and bomb squad, ECSO helicopter, ICE SWAT team, U.S. Border Patrol, Coast Guard Marine Unit, Ellicott Creek Volunteer Fire Department, Sheridan Park Volunteer Fire Department, Grand Island Police Department, Mercy Flight, child identification program and others.
Fire Chief Matt Osinski presented special commendations to William Bender, Angela Bender and Matthew Case for their quick-thinking actions on Sept. 14, when they rendered assistance to a motor vehicle accident victim in the Niagara River. Erie County Sheriff's deputies Bradley Girdler and Brandon Stott were also honored for their actions Sept. 22, for their valuable assistance to the GIFC in extricating a motor vehicle accident victim from smoke-filled wreckage.
Assistant Fire Chief Omar Sortino, fire prevention program coordinator, reported that winners of the "Ride to School in a Fire Truck" drawing will be scheduled for pick-up during the school week of Oct. 20.
The GIFC extended a big "thank you" to Wendy's Restaurant for providing french fry coupons to students who completed fire safety questionnaires, the GIFC Ladies Auxiliary and all those who set aside some quality time to meet with their GIFC volunteers and friends.
A helicopter from the Erie County Sheriff's Office lands at fire headquarters. (photo by Colleen Rebmann)