Carroll County Volunteer Firemen's Association will dedicate and show its newest fire prevention tool at 10 a.m. tomorrow at the Fire Training Center on Washington Road in Westminster.
The $38,000 family fire safety house is a scaled-down mobile home with kitchen, living room and bedroom, and will enable firefighters to teach children fire safety and prevention in an environment similar to their homes.
In each room, fire personnel will show children fire safety tips and burn and injury prevention. Through lectures, demonstrations and hands-on exercises, children can learn fire and home safety lessons.
"It's a good tool," said Debbie Gartrell-Kemp, chairwoman of the association's Prevention & Life Safety Committee.
"Dennis Beard had it put in the second-grade curriculum in Howard County public schools - every second-grader goes through the house every year - and the kids remember better what they learned in the safety house than when a firefighter just comes in and talks to them."
Beard is an active Sykesville-Freedom District Fire Department volunteer who works in the Howard County Fire Department.
Gartrell-Kemp said the safety house would be open to visitors tomorrow, but without smoke, so children and parents can get a close look at it.
The safety house uses a nontoxic "DJ smoke" system so youngsters can see how smoke rises in a real fire. However, permission is needed when smoke is used for simulated demonstrations, she said.
Children who go through the 8-foot-by-32-foot house will learn things such as not letting an electrical cord get in water, microwave oven and stove safety, fireplace and home heating safety, how to use a ladder to climb out a second-story window, and how to call 911.
"We'll have a safety educator set up to answer the phone like they're a 911 dispatcher and talk to the children," Gartrell-Kemp said. "The house has four phone outlets - three inside and one outside."
Youngsters also will learn what to do when smoke enters a room and what actions to take to get out of a burning building, such as crawling on the floor and feeling doors for heat. They will learn that the smoke and gases associated with a fire can be fatal and must not be breathed in.
When a firefighter in full gear approaches a child, many are frightened. Another lesson of the safety house is that the firefighter is a friend and the right thing to do is go to him in a fire situation.
"The one-story unit is handicapped-accessible, but there are two steps to the bedroom, for a two-story effect, and a hearing-impaired smoke detector to teach children how that works," Gartrell-Kemp said.
Children also will receive informational brochures to take home.
"This is the closest thing to an actual fire we want the children to come to," Gartrell-Kemp said. "This is better than just talking to them - talking doesn't teach them anything."
The house will be available for schools, fairs, safety and health events, malls and other organizations.
Gartrell-Kemp said she is setting up a program in which each fire station has a representative to handle requests for the safety house and a team of firefighters to work with children.
"Anyone wanting the safety house can call their closest firehouse and ask to speak to that representative to get it," she said.
Gartrell-Kemp's other goal is to get the safety house put in the Carroll public school system and, to that end, she will meet with school officials Monday to discuss the procedure for including fire safety at the elementary level.
Carroll County Firemen's Association, the umbrella organization of the county's 14 fire departments, paid for the safety house.
Information, Debbie Gartrell-Kemp at Mount Airy Volunteer Fire Company: 301-829-0100 or 410-795-8055.