Firefighters across Port Arthur, Mid-County taking education to children
National Fire Prevention Week kicked off Monday, and area fire departments are doing what they can to spread awareness and educate residents on fire safety and prevention. This year’s theme is “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.”
Several fire departments are hosting open house events to show off their equipment and provide demonstrations, some quite flammable, for the community’s benefit.
The Groves Fire Department will make the rounds to area schools to show students their equipment, provide fire safety tips and answer questions. Firefighters visited Groves Elementary Monday and will be visiting West Groves Early Learning Center on Wednesday and Van Buren Elementary on Thursday.
Groves Fire Department will also host its annual open house from 6:30–8 p.m. Wednesday. In addition to displays of equipment and vehicles, firefighters will also demonstrate the use of the jaws of life by cutting up a junk vehicle.
Refreshments will include popcorn and drinks, and children can handling a real fire hose.
“One of the favorites, we’ll have one of the hose lines hooked up to a hydrant and we let the kids spray water,” Groves fire chief Dale Jackson said. “They love it.”
During Port Neches Fire Department’s open house is from 5:30–7:30 p.m. Thursday, when firefighters will demonstrate one easy way to help prevent fires from spreading: keeping doors closed.
Firefighters will set up three rooms as a visual show for how fire spreads when doors are closed and when doors are left open.
“We’ll show how having a closed door can save someone a lot of time to be able to escape a house without being overwhelmed by fire and smoke,” Port Neches Fire Department Captain Tyler Hebert said.
Acadian Ambulance will open the doors to its ambulance and show off their equipment, and Huntsman Corp. is providing an “old” fire engine to allow residents and children a chance to compare older fire trucks with new ones.
Several local sponsors will provide food, while Abbey Flooring is providing the carpet that will burn as part of the fire demonstration.
Nederland Fire department will have their open house next week on Oct. 15. They too will include a couple of fire demonstrations, and one might be quite explosive. Firefighters will set up a room with furniture do demonstrate a flashover fire, which is a rapidly igniting fire that catches on most of the flammable materials in an enclosed room.
Another room will demonstrate what happens when water is used to put out a grease fire.
We try our best to duplicate it and make it work,” Nederland Fire Chief Terry Morton said. “We’ve done this a couple of times and we’ve been successful each time. We keep the burner on until the grease ignites and we’ll let it sit there and get hot. We’ll reach in there with a cup of water on a pole and pour it over it. It’ll completely clean the pot out instantly, the water goes to the bottom of the pot and turns to steam, and shoves all the oil out of there. And then all the cooking oil is on fire at the same time. It’s a pretty impressive demonstration.”
Nederland’s fire safety house will also provide children with hands-on experience navigating an escape from a burning building.
Firefighters will also spend the week touring schools to talk fire safety and show off equipment to Nederland students.
Port Arthur firefighters will focus their attention on touring schools for Fire Prevention Week, and probably longer.
“We’ll actually be out next week because there’s no way we can fit all the schools in one week,” Port Arthur Fire Marshal L. Paul Washburn said.
Firefighters will, however, be hosting an event from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at Lowe’s, 8383 Memorial Blvd. that will include activities for children like an inflatable safety house, while also demonstrating fire trucks and equipment.
“One of the things we’re going to try to do with the really young kids is let them see firemen so they become familiar and won’t get scared of somebody in uniform if something happens,” Washburn said. “We want to teach them a little bit about when to call 911, let them see the firemen so they know these are the guys that come when you call 911, and this is how they are going to be dressed.
“The kids have never seen that before. The last thing we want them to do is run in the opposite direction or be scared.”