Paul Casey competes for the Martinez Fire Department in a competition to see how fast he can get into full equipment. In addition to the fireman skills competition, the fair offered music, food booths and safety demonstrations for children.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Amid the balloons and games, Fire Fest America 2001 provided children and their parents the chance to learn fire safety.
Two trailers that have been converted into mobile classrooms were the most visible examples of education.
The trailer operated by the Martinez Fire Department operates is 28 feet long and has two floors. Downstairs is a living room with a fireplace and a full kitchen. Upstairs is a bed and bathroom area. Grovetown also has a safety house.
''We take the kids and adults through all the rooms and tell them what to do," said Danny Kuhlmann, training and safety officer for the Martinez Fire Department. Children were also told to designate a meeting spot outside - usually the mailbox.
The festival Saturday raised $25,829. Most of the money will go to the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.
Kuhlmann said the fire-safety lessons have paid dividends.
''We have three or four documented cases where the kids have taken what we taught them and have done something for their family in a real life fire situation."
Kuhlmann said the safety house is taken to all Columbia County schools and is used to teach about 2,000 children a year.
One child who benefited from one such visit was Brett Richardson. The 5-year-old showed off his knowledge at Fire Fest America when a PA announcer asked what stop, drop and roll was.
Scott Meek and his daughter Emily, 5, watch the firefighter-skills competition at the festival.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
''He was just walking by and hollered out the answer," said Michael Richardson, the boy's father. ''The kids remember stuff like that."
Kuhlmann said the Martinez Fire Department was the first in the state to acquire a fire safety house. The house was bought from the fire academy in Forsyth, Ga., in 1995.
Other sites to see included the K-9 unit, a firefighters' muster competition, an extrication demonstration and a guest appearance by Smokey Bear.
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