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Fire safety lessons on an interactive trailer

Posted on July 12, 2022 by Maple Creek
Outside the fire safety training trailer are, from left, Keith Stork, Jordan Martin, Wayne Burton and Trent Empey.

You are heating a pot on your kitchen stove. You leave it unattended and return to find flames rearing out of the pot.
What should you do? On Saturday, I faced this dilemma. Far from leaping into action right away, however, I watched events unfold from a comfortable seating area, before tentatively phoning 911.
In case my landlord reads this, I should stress that I was NOT in my apartment. I was in a Saskatchewan Association of Fire Chiefs interactive fire-safety trailer, taking part in an educational exercise.
The trailer allows children – and adults – to learn about fire safety in their homes, through simulation scenarios within the vehicle. Props like heated doors and smoke machines create realistic fire conditions, making safety instruction much more impactful. There is a bedroom window to simulate an escape route, a fire alarm system, a 911 simulator, an instruction area.
The trailer was one of the Jasper Street attractions at Saturday’s Heritage Festival. I had already passed it on my way to cowboy poetry at Hawrylak Park, but did not stop to investigate, even though the bright décor with images of Sparky the Firedog suggested something fun and engaging. Returning from cowboy poetry, Keith Stork, former Maple Creek fire chief, invited me aboard. I had no idea what to expect. Would it light up like Cash Cab and begin jingling?
In fact, it did light up, just not in the way I imagined. Seated on tiered steps, I watched Trent Empey and Wayne Burton, two deputy fire chiefs, deal with a simulated pot fire in a kitchen.  Using oven mitts, Burton put a cover on the pot to extinguish the flames.
“You take out the oxygen,” he said.
Three other quick lessons were:
• Keep all handles of pots pointed inwards;
• If you leave food in the oven, and it overheats, don’t open the door. Turn the oven off; and
• Ensure all rooms have smoke detectors.
With dense smoke now filling the simulated kitchen, I was asked to ring 911.  As an addict of true-crime stories on Channel 528, I often hear desperate people making 911 calls, giving me the bizarre impression that I have done this many times.  In fact Saturday was the first time I’ve ever called 911 … and even in a make-believe scenario I froze, incapable of speech. Thankfully, with Empey’s coaching, I managed to describe my predicament and provide a made-up telephone number.
Blaine Becker, Maple Creek fire chief, who was in another room in the trailer, handled my call, advising me to find a safe exit and phone for emergency help.
Searching for a way out, I tested two doors with my right palm and felt heat radiating from them. A third door felt normal, so I escaped through it into the sunshine, although I did have the option of a window.
The bright light of day rarely felt so welcome.
Sounds interesting? Well, the interactive trailer will be at Cypress Hills Interprovincial Park on Saturday (July 16) for the 90th anniversary celebrations. You may not win cash, but you will emerge with something far more valuable … knowledge that could save your life.

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