By CRYSTAL LEWIS BROWN, Fort Jackson LeaderOctober 8, 2009
FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Saturday, Isabel Cardwell was awakened by the smell of smoke and the blaring of a fire alarm. The 5-year-old expertly rolled out of bed, making sure to crawl low to avoid the smoke.
After touching one door and deeming it too hot to open, she found her way out of the house and called 911 to alert the authorities of her location.
Fortunately, Cardwell and dozens of other children were not in a real fire, but were participating in one of several stations during last week's Hotoberfest.
Saturday's Hotoberfest was a combined Fire Safety Day and Oktoberfest event hosted jointly by Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation and the Fort Jackson Fire Department.
Die Lustigen Musikanten, a Columbia-based German-style band played German and American favorites, as families munched on traditional German fare and participated in an array of children's activities. Children got the chance to hop into a fire truck, and tours of the fire station were also given.
Sparky the Fire Dog was on hand to teach children how to prevent fires, and what to do in case of a fire.
Some of the day's attendees got more than they expected.
"We came for the (Volksmarch) and the German food," said Danielle Hilliard, referring to the walk that morning.
Although she didn't know about the fire safety events beforehand, she and fellow spouse Christy Hearn thought the activities were helpful.
Hearn's 3-year-old son, Quintin, benefited from the fire safety diagram, she said.
"I think this will help," she said. "He can see it, so it's (easier to understand)."
Chris Zell came out to the event with his wife and three children.
"I work for the (U.S. Army) Corps of Engineers (and) my son likes the firemen, so I brought them out here," he said.
His 3-year-old son Christian came prepared with a fireman's tool belt, which included an ax and a fire extinguisher.
"It's great," Zell said of the event. "We didn't have a meeting place before, so now we have one."
Charles Stoudemire, FMWR special events coordinator, said he estimates about 500 people attended the event.
"I think it went extremely well," he said. "I think those who attended got some good information about fire safety."
Combining the two unlikely events also worked out, he said. He said the two agencies will probably continue Hotoberfest next year.
"We were very pleased ... to be able to give back to the community and team up with a great organization like the fire department."