DETROIT ARSENAL, Mich. -- Every year, Sierra Army Depot firefighters host some of the youngest members of the Herlong, California, community for a Fire Prevention Week activity occurring during the second week in October. This year, three siblings attending one of the two elementary schools participating in the day's event put their fire prevention and awareness training to the test. All three children, along with their mother and father, escaped unharmed when a fire destroyed their house trailer.
"The Tuesday after the open house," said Christopher Winters, Assistant Chief of Fire Prevention at SIAD, "we received a request for mutual aid (for) a fire off base. It was a trailer in the Herlong area. When we responded to the fire, it was pretty involved. Everybody was evacuated, (so) there was no search and rescue type of operation, more of just trying to extinguish that fire as soon as we could and preventing it from (spreading)."
The next day, Winters said, the SIAD fire crew got called back to the scene of the trailer fire to address an area that was still smoldering amid the fire-gutted home. That's when the mother of the three children approached the on-duty assistant chief and his team to express her appreciation for the recent Fire Safety Week training.
"(The children) basically took everything that we taught them and applied it in an actual emergency situation. They even went to a centralized location," Winters said, recounting comments made by the children's mother, noting that both parents had been pleasantly surprised to find their children gathered together a safe distance away from the fire as they had recently been taught to do.
He then described the Fire Prevention Week open house events of just a few days earlier, stating that part of the training involved a fire-safety house trailer that had been borrowed from the nearby Susanville Fire Department for the day.
"We had the trailer set up and ran the kids through a scenario like a fire in the bedroom. We would blow (simulated) smoke in there and tell them to get low and stay calm. We had a window set up as an egress and we had a firefighter on the outside help them down safely. We had a place set up for everyone to go to for accountability to make sure everybody was there and everybody was safe," Winters explained.
He described a few of the event's other activities to include a visit by Sparky the Fire Dog and a Firefighter Challenge for Kids event. The elementary students were also treated to lunch.
"We tried to keep it as fun as possible for the kids, but yet, educational," Chief Winters said.
"It's awesome to hear about any training event that leads to saving lives," he added.
Approximately 116 students participated in the Fire Prevention Week open house hosted by the SIAD Fire and Emergency Services Department.
The SIAD Fire and Emergency Services Department has a memorandum of agreement to assist with emergency situations that occur within the Herlong community.