By Karen Zautyk
October is Fire Prevention Month. You didn’t know? Then you should have asked a Kearny schoolkid.
Thanks to the Kearny Fire Department, 1,770 students in Grades 1-4 got fire-prevention lessons — educational but also fun — culminating in an Oct. 13 Open House at department headquarters on Midland Ave.
The KFD, along with “Firefighter Phil” from Creative Safety Products of Hackensack, visited all the local public grammar schools, along with the private City of Hope School. Emphasis this year was on preventing kitchen fires. “Not an easy topic for children,” admitted Kearny Chief Fire Inspector John Donovan, who oversaw the program.
To get the message across, the classroom lessons also featured a ventriloquist/ puppeteer, Magic Dave, who offered safety tips (e.g. don’t ever try to cook without a parent present, never put anything metal in a microwave, et al) and answered the youngsters’ questions with the help of Spark the Magic Dragon.
Advice was directed at parents, too, and hopefully the kids carried the messages home. (Turn those pot handles away from the outer edges of the stove, Mom/ Dad.)
The youngsters also had a chance to see if they could get into turnout gear (a childsize version was provided) within 60 seconds, which is the max for a firefighter.
Coloring books, comic books and bookmarks–all with fire-safety themes–were the take-home gifts for all the kids.
The Open House, the first ever for the KFD, was designed for both children and adults. Held from noon to 4 on Oct. 13, it attracted a couple of hundred attendees. Not bad for an inaugural event.
The kids had a chance to work a firehose, get a closeup look at firetrucks and engines, and go home with a toy or two.
For adults, there were free smoke detectors and batteries — and educational demos.
Moran Towing provided an auto for an extrication exercise, as the firefighters showed how they would cut off the roof and the doors to free an accident victim trapped inside.
The Fire Sprinkler Association of New Jersey was on site with a trailer to demonstrate the effectiveness of sprinklers in dousing a blaze. “Some people have a fear that one sprinkler will flood their house” Donovan said. “This showed how a sprinkler actually works and how one sprinkler head can quickly put out a fire.”
And, oh yes, there were free refreshments, including donuts, hot dogs, juice, soda. ShopRite donated ice and juice boxes, and Pepsi donated the soft-drinks. (A big thank you to them both.)
Credit for making the Open House a success belongs to KFD Capt. Joe Mastandrea — “It couldn’t have been done without him,” Donovan said — and Deputy Chiefs Joe Viscuso and Frank Viscuso, who also provided much help.