By Bruce Karnick [email protected] For fire prevention week, October 3 through October 9, the Hastings Fire Department held their annual open house. The event draws anywhere from 500-1000 people …
By Bruce Karnick
For fire prevention week, October 3 through October 9, the Hastings Fire Department held their annual open house. The event draws anywhere from 500-1000 people according to Fire Chief John Townsend. “It varies from year to year. Usually, we have 500 to 1000 people that show up through the night is what we would estimate. We’ve been certainly away from doing it for a year. So, I’m a little curious to see how things go, we did pare down some of the things that we typically do, so, we’ll see how it goes.” Townsend said.
The open house featured emergency medical service groups from Hastings and Dakota County. The fire department was the main focus, but the Hastings Police Department had a large presence as did the Dakota County Sheriff’s office. HPD had a few vehicles to explore, DCSO brought a cruiser and the air boat, and the fire department had most of their vehicles available. Some were being used on the property for demo vehicles, so they were not able to be accessed directly. One of the demos they had going out back was kids operating fire hoses. It was fun watching the kids react to the pressure that comes out of the fire hose, even if it was turned down some.
The main piece of the open house was to bring awareness and fire prevention tips to the residents of Hastings, Townsend explained. “Every year during our National Fire Prevention Week, we host an open house here. The goal of the open house is to give people information on fire prevention and fire safety, and then also give them the opportunity to come into our station and see the types of equipment and the types of things that we’re able to do.”
Fire safety is so important, especially once we start using heaters and extra electrical items around the holidays, that members of the fire department hold special classes at local elementary schools. During those presentations, they show kids K-4, just what a firefighter would look like coming to help them, so there was no need to do that at the open house. Other demonstrations did happen, one showed how fast a cooking fire can get out of hand, another station demonstrated the use of a fire extinguisher.
One thing was missing from this year’s open house according to Townsend, “Typically at the open house, every year, we have a smoke house, that the kids can go in, and the smoke comes out, we talk about get out, stay out, get low below the smoke, and what it’s like that they might encounter if a firefighter has to come in and rescue them. We did not unfortunately do the smokehouse this year, because it’s a really confined space. And with some of the COVID concerns and things like that, we weren’t sure how we could cramp a lot of different families into a small space and do it in a safe manner. So, we’ll have that back next year.”
Soon, you will see the wreath go up on the outside of the fire department. The wreath is adorned with white lights. The goal is to keep every single light white for the entire winter season. Every home fire in the Hastings area means a bulb gets changed to red. To keep them white, they need your help.
Townsend explained the key to fire prevention, “Paying attention to the little details at home can prevent a lot of fires, you know, making sure that you’re safe when you’re cooking and in attendance when you’re cooking, blowing out candles when you’re not in the room and making sure that heating devices as we come into winter are well spaced and away from things that can start on fire.”
“I think through the holidays, what consistently remains to be the number one cause of any fires in the home is cooking. And, and it usually has to do with the human behaviors that we do when we’re cooking. If someone who forgot an ingredient and ran to the grocery store and left something on, or someone who got busy doing something else getting ready for their holiday gathering and left that cooking. Those moments when they’re not in attendance to react and adjust to what may be happening are really probably the most common causes of them getting out of hand,” Townsend added.