Unlike most fall festivals focusing solely on fun, Fire Fest America 2003 came with a message - fire safety.
Held Saturday at Doctors Hospital's field behind the Evans Kroger, the event featured an array of activities, including two fire-safety house displays from the Martinez Fire Department and the Grovetown Department of Public Safety.
"We're trying to teach kids what to do if their house catches on fire, like crawling out their bedroom window safely, staying close to the floor or crawling down the steps backwards so they won't fall," said Roy Troiano, a Martinez Fire Department volunteer. "Another thing we're making sure they know is that once their outside, stay outside. Don't go back into the house for any reason."
In addition to the safety houses, Fire Fest featured arts and crafts, children's rides and games, pony rides, a raffle and more.
Perhaps the most popular attraction was the firefighters' muster competition. Five firefighter teams competed in events such as hose relays, a water barrel shoot and a tug-of-war.
The Martinez Fire Department won first place in the competition, followed by a team of Cobb County firefighters in second and Hunter Army Airfield firefighters in third.
Proceeds from the event went to the Columbia County Fire Chiefs Association and the Columbia County Rotary Club. In turn, the groups fund nonprofit organizations, such as the Southeastern Firefighters Burn Foundation.
"Last year, we raised $8,500, which we use to fund programs like the Chavis House," said former Augusta Mayor Charles DeVaney, who is the executive director of the burn foundation. "The Chavis House is a place for families of patients in Doctors Hospital Burn Center to live while their loved ones recover. There are other projects we fund as well, but that's one of our primary and most important projects."
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