By Beth David, Editor
The Fairhaven Fire Departmet held its annual Open House on Sunday, 10/6/19, allowing the public to witness the various aspects of fire firefighting and prevention.
Demonstrations included the “Jaws of Life,” taking apart a car to get to the trapped people inside; firefighters climbing the 100-foot ladder; escaping from a smoke-filled house; how to use a fire extinguisher, and the burning of a small building.
Public Information and Safety Officer Wayne Oliveira explained to the several hundred spectators what to expect in a fire and what to do if they find themselves in a house on fire.
The most important thing, he sai,d is to get out quickly. Fires grow very quickly.
During the fire extinguisher demonstration, Mr. Oliveira explained the fire “triangle,” the three things a fire needs to keep burning: oxygen, fuel, and heat. Take away one of those things, and the fire will go out.
Mr. Oliveira also demonstrated how dangerous it is to use the wrong thing on a fire. If you put water on a grease fire, it will get worse and spread. He said people should smother a kitchen fire, or use an all-purpose extinguisher. To safely put out a fire, stand six to eight feet away, face the fire, and use a sweeping motion, in short bursts, with the fire extinguisher as you back away towards the exit. Always be sure to put the exit behind you and the fire in front of you so you do not get trapped.
During the burning of the small building, spectators could see how it only took a few minutes for the fire to completely engulf the room, burn the mattress completely, and blow up the old-style television.
This year is the last one for Mr. Oliveira, who is retiring in a couple of weeks. He said he timed his retirement to be after the safety week so he could take part in the open house.
He said his favorite part of the even is burning the building, all the “real fire” activities, actually.
Seeing all the people is a “really good feeling,” said Mr. Oliveira.
The event started in 1990 when he asked if they could hold an open house for the public.
“It’s grown and has really become a big day for us,” he said, and gives the public a chance to learn about fire safety and prevention.
It is a chance for the firefighters and paramedics to interact with the public in a fun way. He said they usually see people when they are in distress, either because of a fire, or a medical emergency.
He said he appreciated that people get out to the event, he knows they are busy, and thanked everybody who helped over the years.
“It’s bittersweet,” said Mr. Oliveira about Sunday’s event being his last one.
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