Saturday, October 15, 2016

Dousing the flames (Grand Island Fire Company's open house)

Yesterday evening, I went to the Grand Island Fire Company's open house. The first thing that I noticed was the moon. It was low and huge in the sky. Isn't it spectacular? Actually, it's not quite full in this picture. The full moon will be tonight. It is supposed to be a rare spectacle, called a Hunter's Supermoon. That means that it will be very large and orange tonight, when it is a full moon.

The moon almost stole the show from the Grand Island Fire Company.

But last night belonged to the Fire Company. The Grand Island Fire Company is an all-volunteer fire company that was founded in 1938 by a concerned group of residents. Over the years, the company grew. It has been in its current headquarters, next to Town Hall, since 2003. It has two substations, which are known as "fire truck houses." The company is busy and responds to more than 1,400 calls annually. The annual open house celebrates fire awareness month.

The fire company has to be ready at a moment's notice to respond to any emergency situation.

One of the most interesting presentations at the fire company open house was the live demonstration of an actual fire. As you can see, inside this structure, there is a very bright glow. It's not coming from a very bright three-way bulb. It's a... fire. Hence all of that sneeze-inducing smoke pouring out of the structure.

The fire is getting bigger and hotter. It is time for the fire company to respond to it. 

Fire companies have a variety of tools at their disposal to fight a fire, including different types of engines and trucks, ladders, hoses, axes, etc. There are certain rules for fighting fires. For example, do not pour water on an electrical fire because water conducts electricity and pouring water could make the fire worse.

If you have an electrical fire, the first thing to do is to unplug  and turn off the appliance. Try to smother the fire with a blanket or with a type C extinguisher.  The best type of fire extinguisher to have is an ABC extinguisher. A puts out fires in trash, paper, and wood. B puts out fires caused by liquid and gases. C deals with electrical fires.

Besides equipping yourself with an ABC extinguisher, it is important to have functional smoke detectors in the house. The batteries in the smoke detectors should be replaced twice a year, and the smoke detector should be replaced every ten years. 

As you can see, everything in the room is now on fire. Firefighters have to wear special equipment so that they can approach and douse the fire.

The fire reached temperatures of 1,000 degrees.

The audience is fascinated by the fire and by the firefighters.

Total conflagration.

The firefighters work as a group to douse the flames.


This job take a big team and a lot of coordinated effort from everyone.

The fire is out and everyone applauds. In a real fire, people would have to be placed in emergency shelters. Unfortunately, there are sometimes casualties of fire. There would have to be an investigation into the cause of the fire and the amount of loss sustained by the owners of the structure.

This demonstration taught people the necessity of fire safety in their own homes, of following common sense rules, such as having a functional smoke detector, never burning a candle unless it is carefully monitored, never smoking in bed, etc. 


The fire company also visited local schools to celebrate fire awareness month. It held a "ride a firetruck to school" contest for kids. Kids also got backpacks and junior firefighter hats.


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