Oct. 9, 2006

HL Fire Department puts raffle proceeds to work

By Jennifer Gallus
Staff Writer

The Howard Lake Fire Department recently acquired two new hand-held tools for use at house calls from funds raised through the four-wheeler and equipment raffles during Good Neighbor Days.

A high-definition thermal imaging camera was purchased, and is designed to assist firefighters in low visibility conditions such as smoke and darkness, reported Howard Lake Firefighter EMT Glenn Hofer.

The thermal camera can be used in firefighting scenarios such as, search and rescue missions, scene assessment, locating the seat of the fire, determining entry and ventilation points, and a host of other firefighter situations.

Hofer reported that a carbon dioxide gas detector was also purchased for use in suspected carbon dioxide calls. The gas detector can determine the level of carbon dioxide in a house, which equates to safety for the home-owners and the firemen, Hofer said.

The gas detector will be the firemen’s first-end piece of equipment on a carbon dioxide call, Hofer explained. The gas company will also be called to the scene.

In June, the fire department purchased a new first responder truck from North Central Ambulance in Lester Prairie. Hofer reported that the purchase came out of the fire department’s budget, and that the truck was in rotation to be replaced.

The first responder truck is typically the first truck out on a call, and transports most of the tools the fire department needs for accidents and medical calls.

Fire Prevention Month

Howard Lake firemen will be making rounds in Howard Lake schools starting this week, in an effort to teach pre-schoolers through first grade fire prevention and education.

Hofer reported that the teaching of stop, drop, and roll has changed to stop, drop, cover, and roll. The cover, being cover your mouth, so you don’t breath in the smoke.

The fireman stress to the children that they shouldn’t be afraid of the firefighters when they see them in full gear. Hofer explained that children get especially afraid when the firefighters have their masks on, and that because of the masks, children think their breathing sounds loud and scary, like Darth Vader.

Because of this fear, the firemen go into the classroom with just the firefighter pants and a regular shirt, and then begin to assemble the rest of their attire in front of the students, Hofer said. The firefighters then crawl on the ground in front of the students, explained Hofer, not only to show them how to crawl during a fire, but so they can hear what the firemen sound like with their masks on.

The firefighters also stress to the children to never go back into a house that is on fire, not even to get a special toy or pet.

The firemen leave the children with goodie bags to take home containing information for both the children and their parents, Hofer said.

The firefighters stress that people should check their smoke detectors regularly, change the batteries in smoke detectors, and practice fire drills at home.

Hofer said, “The fire department stresses fire prevention once a year, but we want you to practice fire prevention every day.”

“People in the community give us a hard time,” said Hofer, “they say we’re doing too good of a job because we don’t have fire calls anymore.”

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