Cool fun for hot reason

Published 8:49 am Thursday, October 12, 2006

Fire trucks were wailing and the lights were flashing, but there was no emergency, it was just the Groves Fire Department’s annual open house.

To further the cause of Fire Prevention Week, the Groves Fire Department annually opens its doors to the community hoping to educate and entertain. Kids were allowed to climb on the fire trucks, honk the horns and sirens while other kids hosed down the streets with the help of local firefighters.

“We set up all of our equipment and labeled them for the kids to see and know what they are and what they’re for,” said Fire Chief, Dale Jackson. “It’s fun for the kids and the parents get to see where their tax dollars are going.”

Incorporating Port Arthur Fire Department’s new truck and Motiva’s Fire Department, the area around the fire house was lit up with the lights and sounds of firefighters.

Inside the fire house, popcorn and drinks were served while parents and kids picked up important information about fire safety. The slogan of this year’s fire prevention week is “watch what you heat” because the leading cause of home fires are from cooking accidents.

The fire department has a goal to inform the residents of Groves who are over 65 about fire prevention, and a recent grant will help them achieve that goal. They hope to have a smoke detector installed at the house of every senior citizen in the city.

“All we need is for them to register with us,” said Chief Jackson. “We’ll even install the detectors for them,” he said.

Captain Pete Konidis explained the importance of letting the kids see and touch the equipment the firemen use when they go on calls.

“Small children usually get scared during house fires and hide, even when the firefighters get there. If they get to see what the firemen will wear, then they are more responsive in an emergency,” he said.

Wade McCray of Stat Care EMS, said that informing the kids in advance of what they will encounter during those frantic moments during an emergency can save lives.

“We go to schools and teach kids what the signs are to know if they need to call 9-1-1,” said McCray. “If they can explain that Grandma is not breathing, then we know what to expect when we get there.”

Chris Deman, also of Stat Care, said that it’s fun for the kids to play with the sirens now, but it’s also helpful later.

“They learn not to be afraid of the lights and sirens,” he said.

Chief Bryant Champagne of Motiva and his crew have traveled to eight schools so far this week and still have four to go in their plan to educated kindergartners about what to do should they come in contact with a fire.

The fire department also wanted to inform young teens, at least 16 years old, about their junior volunteer firefighter program. As a junior volunteer, teens can learn about how the firehouse works and the essential elements of fire fighting. It is not until they turn 18, and become volunteer firefighters do they get to actually go out on calls and become more active in the firehouse. Daniel Durham, 19, said his experience has helped shape him into the firefighter he wants to be one day.

“I’m going to go to school to become a professional, but for now this is just a good way to give back to the community,” he said.

Other younger fire fighting enthusiasts just had fun playing in the water.

“It was so fun holding the water hose,” said Ashton, 9, of Groves smiling. “I can’t wait to be a fireman!”

Kamryn, 6, of Groves was not as excited about the profession, but had fun at the open house anyway.

“It wasn’t heavy, holding the water hose, and it was pretty cool on the truck,” she said, “but I want to be a movie start.”

Fire prevention week lasts until Saturday, October 14 and more information can be found on the National Fire Prevention Association’s website,

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