Courtland Vol. firefighters talk fire safety

Published 10:38 am Friday, October 10, 2014

Mackynzie Doyle, 2, of Sedley checks out one of the sirens on the front of the fire truck. -- CAIN MADDEN | THE TIDEWATER NEWS

Mackynzie Doyle, 2, of Sedley checks out one of the sirens on the front of the fire truck. — CAIN MADDEN | THE TIDEWATER NEWS

On Tuesday, three Courtland Fire and Rescue volunteer firefighters visited the Walter C. Rawls Library as part of Fire Safety Week.

They showed off some equipment and one of their firetrucks to a group of children and their parents. Part of what they wanted to accomplish, Capt. Doug Bailey said, was getting them used to the sounds and sights associated with fire crews responding to a fire. If a fire were to happen, Bailey said he wouldn’t want the child to be further endangered by running from help. When a firefighter is all up in their gear, and crawling toward them with their oxygen masks on, it might not even look human, especially if there is a lot of smoke. The loud noises, particularly the breathing into the mask, might further impact their imagination.

“It might look like something from out of this world,” Bailey said. “We just want to try to get them used to how we look in our turnout gear.”

Of course, there’s also just letting them play on the truck, as many of them crawled through the backseat and several got a chance to sit in the front and blow the horn.

“I think it went good,” Bailey said. “It’s always cool watching kids get excited. They all love firetrucks.”

Lindsey Riceman of Courtland brought her two children to the event because they always go to story time, and a firetruck being present was just a bonus.

“Titus, he loves firetrucks,” she said. “It’s just fun for the kids to be in the truck, but they also get to understand how important firefighters are to the community.”

Riceman added that the local library was also important.

“We have been coming ever since Titus was 1,” she said. “We love coming. It’s a chance to get new books and learn something. That’s important to them and it’s important to me.”

Blair Alderman’s child is on the autism spectrum, and she said it’s important to constantly reinforce it in case something happens.

“We came last year and he rode around in the truck,” she said. “But when the firefighters were doing the fill the book program in Franklin, he was afraid to get near them or touch the boot.

“The sensory stimulation that the sound triggers — he can’t control the reaction and response. So we want to expose him so that, hopefully, the reaction won’t be so bad.”

So she brought him to the library to let him interact with it some more, and just like the other children, he was hopping around the firetruck. He even wore a helmet and looked at the mask.

A reason for Fire Safety Week to be near the beginning of October is that it’s starting to get cold, and Bailey said there are several important things that come along with turning the heat back on.

One of the most necessary things is making sure that you have fresh batteries in your smoke alarms.

With space heaters, which are among the biggest reason for calls, Bailey said to make sure they are in working order and to get the dust off of them. It’s also important to make sure your furnaces are in working order.

If you have a chimney, make sure you keep it clean.

“If we have to respond to a chimney fire, that water is going to go straight through the chimney and into your home,” Bailey said. “The bricks also retain heat really well, so it can be a drawn out process, which can cause more water damage to your home.”

Another thing is to watch out for one another and to call.

“If we are called quickly enough, it can be the difference between a room and contents fire and a whole house fire,” Bailey said.

Lastly, don’t hesitate to call.

“If you smell smoke, and think that it went away, sometimes the next thing you know is there is a fire in your wall,” Bailey said. “Sometimes people will call and then say never mind, but we usually respond and investigate anyway because you never know.”