Open house offers interactive simulations in fire prevention
Henderson firefighters showed off a little shock and awe Thursday, putting down a demonstrated kitchen fire with an instant blast from a fire hose to a chorus of youthful comments of “awesome,” “cool” and “wow.”
The blowback of steam and smoke put a finale to the fire department’s visual lesson about dangers with unattended kitchen cooking.
The threat of rain held bigger crowds away, but when the demonstration started, a crowd of about 100 did manage to brave the misting of drizzle hanging in the air.
“We’ve got a pot of grease on the stove, and I’m not paying attention to it,” said Jon Juntunen, the department’s fire and life safety educator. “Once it starts bubbling, we know it’s heating up.”
Before the first burst of flame, Juntunen explained some house rules that should be in place when it comes to grease fires.
“We should already know that we should not pour water on it,” he said. “That will cause the grease to expand and spread the fire. Don’t carry a burning pot or pan outside. That’s a common mistake: most burn injuries are caused by doing that.”
The pot burst into flame, and a fire started growing up toward shelves above the stovetop, catching on fire.
“This is at six and a half minutes,” Juntunen said. “If we continue to leave it unattended, the fire is going to grow. We’re going to show you the effects of how big a fire can get if left unattended.”
For a couple minutes, a quick action to put a lid on the pot would smother it, problem solved, Juntunen said, but once it grows beyond that, the best thing for a resident to use is a fire extinguisher.
After a few more minutes, the shelves are engulfed in flames that run upward to the ceiling, rippling outward from the wall and blackening the burn-cell “kitchen” area of about 10-by-10 feet. Juntunen pointed out the fact that normally a household kitchen has more ingredients to feed a fire.
Moms in attendance included wives of firefighters like Amanda Twisdale, who said that as a teacher she believes the demonstration is a must see.
“Anything visual is good to see, especially for kids,” Twisdale said. “I wish the weather had held out a little more.”
Celeste Lewis said that she had to admit to some kitchen neglect, but she wouldn’t be able to do so without seeing what could happen from the demonstration.
“I did learn a little bit,” she said. “Sometimes I do leave the kitchen when I shouldn’t, when there’s football on TV, football going on. You need to think twice about kitchen cooking, especially if there are children in the house.”
Keianna Boyd, a student at Henderson Collegiate, said a kitchen fire in her home definitely was a scare for her.
“I was stuck in the kitchen, but I got out though,” she said.
Juntunen said the crowd they had was good considering the obvious gray threat of rain in the air.
Coloring contest winners were announced. Receiving bicycles were first-grader Londyn Whitehead, second-grader Tyler Newcomb and fifth-grader Sam J. Brown.
Juntunen reminded those gathered that the open house was also a kick-off for the Henderson Fire Department’s annual home inspection campaign that starts in full swing Monday. Firefighters will be going door-to-door to all the residential homes in Henderson.
The department’s safety campaign is a year-around effort, and the door-to-door visitations continue until all homes have been reached.
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