Fire safety took centre stage at the Forest Grove Volunteer Fire Department’s open house Saturday.
Children got to experience a fire safety-theme obstacle course, built and donated by resident Mal Wood, that taught them how to crawl under smoke, what to do when they hear a smoke alarm, the proper way to stop, drop, and roll and how to hoist a fire hose to a window. They then joined the adults in using a fire hose to knock down some wooden targets.
The event, at Forest Grove’s Number One Fire Hall, also included the opportunity to see the department’s fleet of fire trucks, including a brand new fire truck with a hydraulically lowered inflatable ‘bladder’ style tank.
“It’s all about fire safety, having working smoke alarms on the floor of every house. The faster they know something is going on, the faster they can get out of the house,” said assistant fire chief Michelle Meeker, explaining that fires can spread so much faster today due to construction practices. She encouraged everyone at the event to ask questions and learn to protect themselves.
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“It’s the community’s fire department and they need to be involved and know what’s going on.”
Bree Davidson, a mother of three, who came to the event with her kids to burn off some energy, said she is now considering volunteering at the VFD on Monday nights. Her family is new to the area, having moved here in February, and she feels it could be a good hobby now that her children are in school and their grandmother is living with them.
“I never thought of it but I’m actually super excited to give it a whirl,” Davidson said of applying to be a volunteer firefighter. “I appreciate any volunteer stuff that goes on like this.”
Since she arrived at Forest Grove, Meeker said the department has gone through several changes as they’re trying to make the department the best it can be. She recently applied for a Community Resiliency Grant from the Fire Chief Association and Red Cross for a total of $52,000 to use to purchase new equipment.
Some of that new equipment includes the brand new fire truck that was on display, as well as the trailer for their new Structural Protection Unit, which is still waiting for its equipment. An SPU would allow the fire department to protect homes during a wildfire by setting up sprinklers and other defences.
Currently, the department only has access to one SPU, which is shared between them and several other local fire departments, so the purchase was a big help.
“As we found out in 2017, when 100 Mile is on fire, 108 is on fire, Lac La Hache is on fire and so on and so forth, one unit between us isn’t going to work, so we’ve purchased our own,” Meeker said. “The winter project is to get that unit up and running so then we will have an SPU for the Forest Grove/Canim Lake area.”
Meeker said they also have a new water tender truck on order to replace one that leaks frequently, despite numerous patches. After they get that one built, they’ll be purchasing another new water tender, which will then give them a brand new fleet of trucks, she said.
Her final bit of fire safety advice is specifically geared towards Forest Grove. If you don’t already, Meeker asks that people put up a sign with their address clearly visible near the road as it can help them a lot when trying to respond to a call in the dark.
Anyone interested in joining can come down to the fire hall during their Monday night practices at 7 p.m. and pick up an application form.