Thirteen people from the Towamensing Fire Company spent Oct. 14 teaching children at Towamensing Elementary School the steps necessary for greater fire safety.
Austin Lesko, an emergehcy medical technician and firefighter, talked about Rescue-Pumper 951 as students came out of the school by classes. He asked who in Joan Kasko's kindergarten class knew what equipment was best known. An ax was fastened inside a door and he took it down to show the children.
An accountability board showed where each fireman was if he went inside a burning building. Lesko took two ID cards and placed them on the board. Pretending one had returned it was taken off the accountability board, and then the second one was. It was a guarantee no one would be left behind.
Lesko was asked if the fire company had a Dalmatian dog. He said few fire companies did any more because they had been used to keep people away from the horses when the fire carts were pulled through the streets. Now they are only mascots with the few fire companies that have them.
The cost of a truck was questioned. Lesko said the prices ranged from $150,000 to $500,000, and could range into the millions of dollars depending on the use and equipment needed.
Wayne Knirnschild, fire chief, heard the question from a group of students he was talking to and said the Rescue-Pumper with the equipment it had would cost $750,000.
Inside the school in Lindsay Serfass' sixth grade class Captain Eric George; Wendy Keller, fire police; Mike Dreisbach, assistant chief and Shawn Hoffman, junior firefighter, were talking to students about fire safety.
George explained the different types of smoke detectors - one that would go off if it detected smoke and one that looks for smoke and flame, and said the batteries should be changed whenever time changed. That way it is not easily forgotten. If a detector goes off everyone should get out of the house and go to a designated meeting spot.
Hoffman had his complete fireman's outfit on when he came into the room. If there had been a fire he said he would have crawled in. George pointed out that there is no skin exposed. Hoffman's clothing cost $3,000 and his air tank cost from $5,000 to $7,000.
"We have 20 firefighters so it costs $10,000 each," said George.
He recommended each home have a reflective house number so a home where help is needed can be found readily. The fire company sells one kind but others are available.
Each firefighter wears an ID tag that is placed on a command board much like the one at the truck. It shows where he is and what he is doing. For accountability it is checked every 20 minutes.
The fire police are in charge of traffic control. They have to worry about both the accident when that is what the call was for and traffic.
If there is no open flame a thermo (heat) imaging camera is used to locate the source of smoke.
He held up an electrical outlet that was partially burned. It had a triple socket in one socket. There had also been a triple in the other socket and a series of extension cords off them. The demand for power started the fire.
Knirnschild is proud of the firemen and women who donate their time to the school program.