Our local volunteer fire department joined thousands of others nationwide in hosting an open house to help families in the community prevent fires and accidents.
WATER PRESSURE: My son Zac enjoyed handling the big fire hose, with a little help from long-time, veteran firemen, Doc J.W. Carlson.
For my kids, it was fun and games. They were allowed to crawl on their hands and knees through the “smoke house,” a smoke and fire simulator, learning why it was important to stay low when exiting a smoke-filled burning building. They took a grip on a huge water hose and had water target practice, just as firemen might do to practice their techniques.
But the open house conducted by Crofton’s volunteer fire and rescue department this past week, in honor of National Fire Prevention Week, had nothing to do with fun and games. It was all serious business.
This same group of volunteers had a busy week, not only in education, but in actual fire fighting. High winds, extremely low humidity and about a month without measurable precipitation caused a high fire danger all last week. Local firemen and rescue squad members responded to several major fires, which eventually burned up machinery and several hundred acres. They helped out neighboring departments when the mutual aid call came. They were busy folks. So we can imagine that they are quite anxious in helping local residents prevent fires at their open house. (Learn more about preventing combine fires.)
Local volunteer firemen, folks we see every day in our community, hosted a large crowd of parents and children at the open house, not just to show off shining red fire trucks and high tech rescue equipment. They did this to save lives. And it works.
ON BOARD: Local EMT, Katie Tramp, demonstrates how volunteer emergency medical technicians might treat an injured person. Girl in the blue watching the demo is my youngest daughter, Taylor.
I cannot forget when I was in Kindergarten, waiting in the house for my Dad to drive me to the school bus in the morning, when I looked out the window and saw smoke rolling from the hog barn. Dad was in there, feeding sows and baby pigs.
Frantic, I told my mother what was happening. She called the fire department. Moments later, my Dad burst through the hog house door carrying a huge pile of burning straw that had caught fire from a heat lamp. By the time the firemen arrived, the fire had been extinguished, but Dad was glad that day that our local fire department was available.
That incident reminded me of many safety messages about fire prevention that were etched in my brain by my parents and at programs like our local open house. On the farm, fire hazards are numerous, so safety takes on special significance.
Here are a few farm fire prevention tips gleaned from Nebraska Forest Service publications handed out at our local open house.
1) Clean up and get rid of trash, old furniture and papers.
2) Inspect electric wiring, grain dryer controllers and fuses and replace worn wiring.
3) Keep ordinary wiring and lighting away from wet areas.
4) Make sure your well pump is on a separate, dependable electrical circuit.
5) There is no smoking around chemicals, flammables and stored combustibles, and make sure everyone knows it.
6) Fuel storage should be designed to prevent any fires from spreading to other buildings.
7) Always refuel equipment out of doors, away from open flames or sparks.
8) Keep stock tanks and water ponds accessible for fire departments to use if a fire ever started up.
9) Check lightning protection and grounding.
10) Bottled gas, welding gas and oxygen should be securely fastened to firm support
11) Chimneys should be kept in good repair.
12) Clear grass and weeds from around buildings and farm structures.
13) Do not park vehicles in tall, dry vegetation.
14) Keep fire extinguishers handy in buildings and on machinery.
15) Make a fire prevention plan for the farm and home and educate family members about the plan.
16) Seek assistance from local fire prevention personnel when planning and building new structures on the farm.
17) If fire breaks out, do not attempt to fight it before calling the fire department. It is what they are trained to do, so call them immediately.