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Fire departments hosting community safety day

Washington Township Emergency Management, Emerald, Friedens and Slatedale volunteer fire departments have partnered for a second annual Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness Community Day.

From 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, those who don’t have an emergency plan, have never used a fire extinguisher or learned the techniques of CPR are invited to the Slatedale fire department.

“September was emergency preparedness month and October is Fire Prevention Month so it just worked out well,” Washington Township Emergency Management Coordinator Sherry Graver said.

The four departments, along with 10 other emergency and rescue agencies, will be on hand to educate families at this free event.

“We want to get kids out and parents educated, getting them prepared for a kitchen or house fire, getting a plan together and getting out safe,” said Robert Schramel, Slatedale fire department chief.

Fire department heads say most household fires are preventable, with few electrical exceptions.

“One house fire started from ashes from a pellet stove. A cool breeze blew them onto a wood pile. It was totally preventable,” said Jeremy Merkel, Friedens assistant fire chief.

“Keeping the chimney clean and not having dry leaves around vents, keeping extension cords to a minimum, it’s just about educating the public,” said Keith Kibler, Emerald department’s chief.

“We will have demos on why and how we cut a car apart. It will be a slow scenario of how we do it at an accident site,” Schramel said.

“We will slow it down for people to see what we are doing,” Merkel said.

“There will be a lot of noise and crunching.”

Two separate cars will be used for the rescue demonstrations on site at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m.

“The whole reason for community day is to let the public know we do so much more than fight fires. We just want to say to the community, ‘Hey, here we are. This is what we do,’ ” Kibler said.

Allentown K-9 arson dog, Judge, an award-winning golden Lab, will attend the event on Saturday along with his handler, who will explain the importance of the K-9 arson program.

Schramel said, “It’s a matter of having five to 10 people trudging through the woods, or having a handler and a dog. It makes the rescue a lot quicker.”

Kids will be able to use a small handheld fire hose while the Northern Valley Safety Trailer will be used to simulate bedroom or kitchen fires to help families develop a plan of safety.

“It’s for both kids and adults,” Schramel said.

“We are trying to make sure people are prepared,” Graver said.

The American Red Cross, Northern Valley EMS, Lehigh County Special Ops, Lehigh County Emergency Management and Pennsylvania One Call-811 will educate attendees on the importance of the services provided and the need they fill in the community.

“PA One Call, you dial 811 anytime you are going to dig a hole, for a plant or house improvements, you call 811 and they come and check for water and power lines,” Kibler said.

Weather permitting, PennStar will fly in to demonstrate a rescue landing and a hands-only CPR training will take place during the day.

“Everyone on the list is a volunteer,” Keith said.

“It’s all about community involvement,” Graver said.

“Everyone knows about the volunteer shortage. The one thing we can do is get communities prepared,” Graver said.

Hot dogs, popcorn and water will be available during the day and Smokey Bear will make an appearance.

“We want to make it fun,” Graver said.

The event begins at 10 a.m. Saturday at the Citizens Fire Company 1 Station 23 at 3922 Main St. in Slatedale.

Emerald Fire Chief Keith Kibler, Slatedale Chief Robert Schramel, Washington Township emergency coordinator Sherry Graver and Friedens Assistant Chief Jeremy Merkel work together to organize the second annual Fire Safety and Emergency Preparedness Community Day. KELLEY ANDRADE/TIMES NEWS