Safety house teaches kids, saves lives

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, August 29, 2000

Staff Writer

It’s here!

A tool that will be used to teach fire safety and lessons about severe weather has arrived and members of the Pike County Firefighters Association couldn’t be happier.

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Sunday night, the Association’s fire safety house was delivered and will soon be used to educate children.

Most fire deaths could have been prevented with a little knowledge and that is what area firefighters want to do.

Outfitted with smoke devices, the house can be used to teach children how to crawl to safety and heating elements for the doors so a child can learn to touch a door before opening it. It also has fire alarms and, of course a telephone to teach children how to dial 9-1-1.

Knowing the lessons learned in the fire safety house can save lives makes the purchase well worth it, said Pike County Firefighters Association President Johnny Gibson.

The house also has cameras and a VCR so actions of children can be recorded and played back to illustrate what was done correctly and what could have harmed them.

The Association has been raising funds for a while to make the fire safety house purchase.

Gibson said the Association has "about $33,000 wrapped up" in the safety house and equipment needed to run it.

He did point out the group received a $2,800 discount because the one purchased was used for display purposes at the International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Conference held last weekend in New Orleans.

That discount, Gibson said, made it possible for the Pike County Firefighters Association to get the severe weather package in the house.

That package gives children (and adults, too) the opportunity to experience a simulated storm complete with "lightning" weather sirens going off to give warning to seek shelter.

"It’s impressive," Troy Fire Chief Ray Rhodes said when given the "tour" of the safety house Tuesday afternoon.

And, Wayne Craft of the Alabama Forestry Commission is ready to put it to use.

"We’re proud it’s here," said Robert Catrett, vice president of the Firefighters Association. "We worked three years to get it here."

But, the work is not over, yet.

The Firefighters Association had to borrow money to make the purchase is seeking funds to pay back the loan.

Firefighters will also need money for necessary maintenance of the fire safety house.

"We still need the help of Pike County for the upkeep of the fire safety house," Catrett said.

Catrett said every dollar donated is going toward saving lives.

A young child in North Alabama was able to save himself because he knew what to do during a house fire.

"A fire safety house is not just something to play with, it’s something to save lives," Catrett said.

He said statistics indicate the need for fire safety education.

Nationwide, 5,000 people are injured or killed in fires, Catrett said, adding many of them are small children who get scared, hide and die in the blaze.

While fires can be prevented by being cautious, lives can be saved through education.

Anyone who would like to help the Pike County Firefighters Association save lives through education, can make donations for the fire safety house by sending checks to P.O Box 222, Troy, AL 36081 or calling the Association office at 566-0481.