Kent fire education more than stop, drop and roll

Deanna Stevens

The Kent Fire Department looks to graduate from its elementary fire education tactics.

At the Kent City Council meeting on Wednesday, the council approved a $32,160 grant to the Department of Homeland Security to buy equipment that coincides with its “Risk Watch” comprehensive safety program.

“It’s been an evolution in the fire department to stay as updated as we can,” Safety Director William Lillich said.

While the program is already in use, equipment such as the intelligent fire extinguisher and Sparky’s Hazard House are the new aids that will allow the firefighters to gear the education toward all age groups.

“Right now everything is in place,” Lt. Craig Peeps said about the curriculum. “This will just add to it.”

Currently, the department only teaches fire safety strategies to children in Kent elementary schools from kindergarten through fourth grade. Pending on the grant’s approval, the program would expand to adults, including fraternities and sororities, as well as lessons for the elderly.

While in the early stages of planning, Peeps said the Fire Department would coordinate with the fire safety services on campus to create some safety practices in fraternity and sorority houses.

But collaboration between the Fire Department and the Department of Public Safety would not be the first, Fire Safety coordinator Ed Moisio said. Both organizations work together for things like resident hall assistant training.

“I let them take care of things off campus, and they let me take care of things on campus,” Moisio said. “But it’s a joint venture.”

The new equipment will be a replacement for the safety trailer the union sold in 2005. Fire Chief James Williams said the new tools are mobile enough to set up anywhere, which will allow for easier transportation into the community.

The intelligent fire extinguisher would be a safer practice than the current teaching method used to put out fires.

“Currently we use gas and kerosene in a pan and light it on fire,” Williams said. “But sometimes the force of the extinguisher pushes the kerosene on the ground which is not safe for the environment or those involved.

“This one is more controlled because it uses propane as a fuel and whoever is controlling it can turn it off,” Williams added.

Sparky’s Hazard House is an interactive safety house that is built like a large dollhouse. In it are hazard scenes, like a radio above a person in a bathtub, which the children have to point out. The house also creates smoke so children can have a visual of the way smoke rises during a fire.

The department will find out if the grant is approved in about six months.

Contact public affairs reporter Deanna Stevens at [email protected].