The Daily Southerner, Tarboro, NC

October 8, 2012

TFD kicks off Fire Prevention Week

Staff Writer
Calvin Adkins

TARBORO — The Tarboro Fire Department kicked off National Fire Prevention Week on Sunday with educational activities that made children laugh and grownups put more thought into fire safety.

A puppet show with a serious message concerning fire prevention and other aspects of fires created a little giggle box for children. The children were also given opportunities to sit in fire trucks and turn on the siren and horn. A treat that children and adults were encouraged to attend was the smoke house. The smoke house may have been fun for the kids, but for one adult, it was an awakening experience.

"You feel helpless — you can't see anything," said Janice Allsbrook. "I can't imagine waking up to that."

Lt. Kevin Whitehead responded, "Just imagine. We have to go inside of that."

New technology (the thermal imaging camera) has made going inside a smoked -filled room to search for bodies easier for firefighters. One of the highlights for the adults was the demonstration of the thermal imaging camera. Children also were given the opportunity to see the equipment in action.

Demonstrators placed spectators in a totally dark room. Inside the room, there were several people spread around and the spectators were asked to find them. An image of the people were shown by the camera.

"This makes it a lot easier if someone is trapped inside a burning building," Whitehead said. "The traditional way, we would search each part of the room and that could take some time. With this, all we have to do is scan around the room and then move on to the next one."

The event also included a K-9 demonstration by the Tarboro Police Department. Free drinks and hot dogs were also available.

"Due to the weather, it has been better than I expected," said interim Tarboro Fire Department Frankie Winslow. "This is a way that we get the community to involved and they can see what we do better."

The event is one of several going on this week in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week as several Edgecombe County Volunteer Fire Departments have plans to visit schools. Fire Prevention Week will end Saturday with a big collaboration of Tarboro Fire Department and the county's 10 volunteer department. The event is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. at Lowe's Improvement Center Parking lot. Other emergency entities scheduled to be on-hand are the Edgecombe County Rescue, Forestry Service, East Care Helicopter and East Care Ambulance.

The highlight of the event will be a controlled LP gas burn with flames expecting to exceed at least 30 feet high. Firefighters will respond to the burn from a different location.

"This will be a simulation of what could happen if an LP tank is on fire in your backyard or if a LP tank truck explodes," said Allen Dennie, chief of Conetoe Fire Department and the president of the Edgecombe County Fire and Rescue Association. "We want to give the public a good idea what we go through when we are fighting these types of fires."

According to the National Fire Protection Association, Fire Prevention Week was established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire. The tragic fire in 1871 killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres. The fire began on Oct. 8, but continued into and did most of its damage on Oct. 9, 1871.