Fire was ablaze inside the windows of a small white house. Orange flames stained the windows of the house on Mammoth Road. Many watched as, time after time, the house was shot with the high-power hose of the firefighters. At the helm of the fire hose were children.
This was the scene at the Londonderry Fire Department’s Open House last weekend, as children of all ages lined up to take aim at the wooden house. Just orange paint, the flames that were displayed inside the windows gave the children a target. The windows of the house, once hit with water, would fall open.
The fire department’s Open House, held at the central station on Mammoth Road, has become an annual event. Each year, the fire department hosts a number of safety demonstrations and fun events for children and families. This year’s event featured a smoke room, information from ALERT, firetrucks, including the ladder truck, and “Sparky” the firetruck driving dalmatian.
Inside the smoke room, families with children of all ages were given the opportunity to experience what it might be like if their house was filled with smoke. Londonderry Fire Marshal Brian Johnson gave some important information about what to do during a house fire. Children learned to touch doors to check for heat using the backs of their hands, stay inside a room with the door closed, stuff blankets and other objects against the bottom of the door if it felt hot, and wait by windows until a firefighter could be seen outside before opening the window. Johnson also touched upon the importance of finding a meeting place outside of the home, such as a specific tree or boulder, during an emergency.
Sparky the dalmatian dog was a popular attraction for the children. The dog was fully interactive, asking children their names, ages, and other information. He could flash his lights, sound his sirens, as well as navigate across the floor of the fire station upon request. The secret behind his performance will remain one, however.
One of this year’s demonstrations involved a controlled chimney fire. During the demonstration, firefighters, dressed in full gear, lit a fire inside a chimney stack. The stack was lined with creosote, the potentially dangerous tar-like substance formed naturally from burning wood. Spectators were able to watch as the creosote lit fire and thick smoke and flames exited the top of the chimney stack. The demonstration was to show the dangers of an improperly cleaned chimney.
Also at the open house, children were able to climb in the front of the firetrucks and look at the firefighters’ equipment. The bucket at the end of the 100 foot ladder was also lowered to allow the children to climb in and out. They were also able to try on some of the gear the firefighters use, including helmets, boots, gas masks, and jackets.