BREWSTER — Firefighters regularly visit local schools to teach students what to do in an emergency.
“We try to go out and do basic fire safety messages, like this is what a smoke detector sounds like; make sure you crawl low in smoke; know two ways out of every room,” said Brewster firefighter and paramedic Michael Herrmann.
Herrmann, along with fire Capt. Jeff Sturtevant, tries to hammer home the importance of fire safety and educate students about what to do if the worst happens. But getting any realistic practice in a school gymnasium with a group of about 50 students can be difficult.
“When we go to the schools now, we’ll use things like tables and tarps to simulate smoke or stop drop and roll just in the middle of this wide open floor,” said Sturtevant. “But we don’t take into consideration that there’s stoves, cabinets and kitchen tables there that they have to compete with. It’s not just roll until you hit something.”
That is changing. Over this past weekend, the department acquired a new fire and life safety education trailer to enhance fire prevention and safety awareness in the community.
The 30-foot-long trailer brings an added level of realness to the department’s safety programs.
Inside the trailer is a faux home, allowing the department to show people what to do in an emergency situation in a setting that is similar to everyday life. It includes a bedroom and a small kitchen area, with a microwave, stove and sink.
Doors inside the trailer can heat up just like they would in a real fire and fog can be vented in to simulate smoke. There are also bleacher style seats inside for viewers.
The department is planning an education curriculum for the new trailer and hopes to have it available at events to spread the word about fire safety.
“The imagination is the limit,” said Herrmann, who helped write the grant for the trailer. “It’s kind of cool that we can simulate having a house.”
Having the trailer can prepare people a lot more than having a firefighter stand in front of a room and simply lecture, Herrmann said.
“There is really no way you can compare hands-on training,” he said.
Brewster Fire Chief Robert Moran also plans to use the trailer with the senior community, teaching smoke detector use, cooking safety and home-exit drills, he said.
The trailer costs about $41,000 and was largely paid for with a federal assistance grant. The Brewster Fire/Rescue Association donated $5,000 and there was a 5 percent funding match of $1,775 from a Fire Department grant match funding article.
The department is also planning a “Visit the Neighborhood” program, where it will head out into the community and use the trailer to get out information during the busier summer months. This weekend it will be on display for Brewster in Bloom.
“We have a lot of cool props to train us, but now we have a real cool prop to help train the community, too,” said Herrmann.
— Follow Ethan Genter on Twitter: @EthanGenterCCT.