Where there’s smoke, there’s fire.
At the Chula Vista Fire Department’s annual open house to promote fire prevention techniques and educate the public, some 1,500 attended.
This year’s campaign was Have Two Ways Out.
“We have a room scenario with a bed and a heated door,” Chula Vista fire inspector and investigator Derek Olivas said. “We showed them how to check the door with the back of their hand and if it’s hot, we have them go out a side window to simulate a second story escape.”
Last Saturday, fire personnel participated in live fire department demonstrations, fire equipment displays and fire prevention exhibits.
The event has been going since 2005 and is meant to give residents a firsthand look at firefighting techniques and a chance to learn valuable fire prevention information.
In addition, the Burn Institute, San Diego County HazMat Unit, Citizens Emergency Response Team, Citizens Adversity Support Team and the Fire Safe Council of San Diego County set up information booths for residents to view.
Olivas began organizing the event three months ago. Of approximately 120 community volunteers, 35 were from the fire department.
“We have a lot of returning kids,” Olivas said. “They look forward to it every year, which is great because we can make sure that they remember what we taught them last year.”
Olivas said demonstrations of smoke detectors were also given to kids so they know what it sounds like when it goes off in a house.
“This is an important event to have them experience some fire safety features in a non-threatening or scary situation,” Olivas said. “We provide literature and coloring books on fire safety and prevention.”
Olivas said a big draw to kids is the toolkits donated by Home Depot that allows them to build small fire trucks.
“We also have a puppet show with kids where we talk about what is good fire and what is bad fire and what to do with matches,” he said. “It’s a lot of educating the kids on fire safety.”
“We run tours and talk about common household fire hazards,” he said. “In the kitchen with pot handles being turned in so kids don’t bump them. We talk about making sure screens are on fire places… We talk about stop, drop and roll.’”
Olivas said they also discuss with parents having a pre-planned meeting evacuation spot in case there’s a fire and to practice it with their kids.
Since it’s fire prevention month, Olivas encourages residents to go online to the fire department’s website and learn more about creating defensible space around their homes.
“We encourage permanent irrigation and using fire resistant plant material,” he said.
Olivas noted problem fire areas as any properties that butt up to canyons, also known as wild land urban interface.
“This event is important because we get a lot of families that may not know how to talk about fire to their kids and it allows us to answer questions that they might have and it also allows us to interact with the kids,” Olivas said. “We’re here to help them out so they feel comfortable contacting us.”
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