BUCKHANNON — Public safety agencies from in and out of Upshur County were on hand at Tractor Supply Saturday for the first Upshur County Emergency Services Safety Expo.
The Upshur County Firefighters Association worked together to put on the event with representation from every fire department in the county, according to Rick Harlow, chief of the Adrian Volunteer Fire Department and president of the UCFFA.
The event also had participation from Upshur County 911 Center, Upshur County EMS and the Upshur County Sheriff’s Department among others.
“Pretty much every emergency service was represented here,” he said. “I think it’s going great. We only had about a month and a half to put it together this year and the turnout has exceeded our expectations with the Forest Festival and everything else going on.”
Numerous giveaways were held including bikes and other bikes were donated for giveaways throughout the day. Upshur County EMS bought the food which was sold at the concession stand and many people helped make the event a success, according to Harlow.
Jane Lew Fire Department brought their smoke trailer which allowed the public to experience what it is like in a smoke-filled house and how to exit quickly and safely.
Harlow said this feature was very much appreciated.
“They are out of the county but they are still here supporting us,” he said.
J.D. Miller with the Jane Lew VFD said his department purchased the trailer several years through a FEMA grant and uses it to promote fire safety education in the schools and at community events.
Each facet from the stove becoming hot to the phone simulator to practice calling 911 to the bedroom door feeling hot to the touch is designed to mimic what kids might experience in real life.
They use the trailer to teach kids to sleep with their bedroom doors closed to prevent the spread of fire and give them time to get out safely.
For those who wanted to, they could exit the trailer from a window on the second floor and volunteers from other departments were on hand to help them get down safely.
Nearby, the Buckhannon Fire Department was promoting the national Close Before You Doze campaign with the same message.
Lt. Joey Baxa and Career firefighter Linn Baxa demonstrated how fire and smoke could be prevented from spreading so quickly by closing doors on a dollhouse designed to represent a real house.
“The temperature in a bedroom with the door closed has been shown to be around 100 degrees where the temperatures on the opposite side of the door where the fire is, have been shown to be over 1,000 degrees,” he said.
“It makes a big difference. Decades ago they used to tell people they had 17 to 20 minutes to get out of their home when a fire broke out. Today, they are telling people you have three.”
Changes in the way manufacturing is done and the types of materials that homes are constructed with, along with the furnishings, are a factor in this.
“We are using a lot more plastics and a lot more hydrocarbons,” he said.
Not only should sleeping with the bedroom door closed become a habit, but if a fire were to break out, homeowners should exit the home quickly but remember to close the door behind them for the same purpose.
“If you have a fire in your home, on your way out, shut the door behind you,” he said.
Other demonstrations included the Jaws of Life on a vehicle.
Harlow said these types of demonstrations as well as kids getting to see firefighters walk around in full turnout gear were a good opportunity to teach kids about what they do in a controlled environment.
“I would like to thank the public for coming out and supporting us. It’s been great.”
Plans are in the works to make it an annual event next year that will be bigger and better, according to Harlow.