FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas - Fire Prevention Week activities culminated Oct. 11 with an open house at the Fort Sam Houston Fire and Emergency Services.

About 300 people attended the six-hour event which showcased fire and police services in a festive atmosphere at the fire station and Leadership Field.

The open house featured displays of fire trucks, an ambulance and a military police car, a fire safety house that taught "stop, drop and roll," fire extinguisher training, giveaways, educational materials, raffles, free lunch and refreshments, Segway rides, entertainment, games and a dunk tank. The event was co-sponsored by the Directorate of Emergency Services and the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation.

"One thing we try and do is to get the kids out here and teach them about fire prevention," said Assistant Chief for Fire Prevention Terry Davis. "We count on the kids to teach their parents."

Davis and Garrison Commander Col. Mary Garr welcomed Families at 9 a.m. in a ceremony inside the bays of the fire station.

Fire Prevention Week has been observed since 1922, when it commemorated the Great Chicago Fire of Oct. 9, 1871, Garr said. It burned an area roughly the size of Fort Sam Houston. The observation has been held annually since President Woodrow Wilson signed the first proclamation.

Fire Prevention Week 2008 was dedicated to Supervisory Fire Inspector David Meyer, who died this year. Meyer, who had worked at Camp Bullis and here from 1977 to 2003, was instrumental in promoting Fire Prevention Week.

Garr presented a plaque and poster to Meyer's wife Linda, Army Lodging manager here, and the Meyer children.

Garr then presented trophies and certificates to children who had participated in a fire prevention poster contest. The winning posters were on display at the fire station.
The past week, Fort Sam Houston firefighters and inspectors visited the Child Development Center, Fort Sam Houston Elementary School, Lincoln Military Housing community centers as well as offices on post to educate children and workers about fire prevention and fire drills, Davis said. The department also participated in National Night Out Oct. 7 with the Provost Marshal Office.

Fire Inspector Scott Rath gave a briefing on home fires and a demonstrated using fire extinguishers.

When cooking, Rath said to always have pot and pan lids nearby in case there is a fire. Putting a lid on a fire will cut off its air supply. He said not to throw baking soda on a fire because that just usually spreads the burning materials. He also recommended getting a Type K extinguisher for the kitchen because of its low pressure spray.

Children and adults were invited to use extinguishers to put out fires on a training apparatus.

Ryan Lynch, 11, a sixth-grader at Cole Middle School, was one of the numerous children who practiced using a fire extinguisher.

"I learned that you can't hold the hose, you have to hold the nozzle because it's very high pressure," he said.

About 10 Soldiers from Special Troops Battalion, U.S. Army South and Brooke Army Medical Center volunteered to help run the events including the dunk tank, inflatable play areas and concession stands.

Volunteer Spc. Pedro Ayala, a food service specialist with the STB, worked at a free drink stand.

"I volunteered because they said there would be a whole lot of kids out here," Ayala said. "Every time some one comes up were having a little conversation."

Fire Inspector Anthony Morin ran a fire safety house that featured a kitchen and bedroom and showed how smoke travels through a house.

Visitors to the house learned about stovetop safety, such as the correct positioning of pot handles. They also learned the technique of "stop, drop and roll."

Stopping what you're doing, dropping to the floor because hot gases rise, and rolling or crawling to an exit, Morin said.

"A lot of the parents would say, 'I didn't know that,' so it's good information for everybody," he said.

(Jeff Crawley works in the Fort Sam Houston Public Affairs Office)