New MFD Fire House teaches safety with simulated smoke, flames

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They crawled through the smoke, feeling for a door that wasn’t hot. Then, finding that one door, they were able to exit the mobile home.

However, this wasn’t just any mobile home; it was the Maricopa Fire Department’s new Fire House, which debuted at Kids Day Maricopa last weekend. For five hours children and adults packed the trailer to actually experience fake flames coming off frying pans, simulated smoke and warm doorknobs. They crawled through smoke from a kitchen, down a hall and through a bedroom to find a way out.

“This is so awesome,” said one young man as he crawled through the smoke and out the rear door of the fire house.

Firefighter John Barr explained that for the first hour or so, the exit was a rear window. “Then it got too warm outside and the metal got hot, so we switched to the rear door.”

The 39-foot, $72,000 fire prevention trailer has programs, tools and simulations to teach children and adults about fire safety. 

A control panel in a closet, manned by firefighters, can also generate mock 9-1-1 calls to monitor a child’s knowledge of how to utilize that system.

Funded by grant monies from the Mahoney Group, the Firemen’s Fund and the Assistance to Firefighters grant, the trailer will be used at area schools as part of the Fire Pals program instituted by firefighter Mike McCorry in 2009. “We can teach children what they are supposed to do during an emergency and use the trailer to see those lessons actually in action,” McCorry said earlier, in anticipation of the new fire house’s arrival.

The Fire Pals program consists of firefighters meeting with elementary school children to educate them on the basics of fire and personal safety. The expectation is that children will share what they learn with their siblings and parents.

The trailer will not be limited to school training and education. It will appear at city-sponsored events such as Stagecoach Days and the salsa festival to help educate the public about fire safety. The department also has a pull-station to teach about fire alarms in businesses and a garbage can which ignites to show homeowners the dangers associated with possible garbage can fires close to a house.

According to MFD spokesman Brad Pitassi, “The fire house isn’t just for kids. We plan to take it to Province and hope HOA’s and other groups will use it as well.” 

Firefighter Richard Jackson will be coordinating the scheduling of the fire house for various events. If you want to schedule the fire house for an event or group, click here.

“Educating the public about fire safety and fire prevention is all part of our department’s community outreach,” Pitassi said.

Photos by Joyce Hollis  (use < > to see a photo of the new Fire House)