Local senior citizens challenged one another to time trials during a fire safety class at Chatham Woods Tuesday.
“The Elkin Fire Department brought the simulator and each person in attendance had the opportunity to practice using a fire extinguisher to put out a fire,” explained Nicole Perkins, Chatham Woods property manager. “The training was very informative and the interaction made it fun.”
“Knowing the proper way to extinguish a fire could save your life, and others around you,” said Chatham Woods Maintenance Super Bill Taylor. “Fire safety is important whether you are a renter, or a home owner.”
Capt. Theresa Knops of the Elkin Fire Department demonstrated proper use of a fire extinguisher to a room full of residents before giving them the opportunity to try it for themselves.
“PASS is what you want to remember when you get this extinguisher,” said Knops. “PASS stands for pull the tag off and the pin out, aim it at the base of the fire, squeeze the handle and then sweep back and forth across the base of the fire.”
After reminding participants to always make sure there is an exit between you and the fire and to not hesitate to call 911 when needed, Knops invited people to try the extinguishers for themselves on a simulator.
“I have had similar classes before,” said resident Greita Gibbs, “but not with a fire simulator which made the demonstration seem more real. I would definitely recommend this class.”
“It was very informative to understand how to properly put out a fire. Using the simulator was helpful,” said Taylor, “but I think in a real-life situation, it would be different. The sim is great practice to increase your knowledge and understanding on how fire works. It’s not like your BBQ grill.”
Even with assistance from Lt. Kevin Carter and firefighter Jake Henley Taylor, who was one of the youngest people in the room, some had difficulty putting out the simulated fire. After several combined attempts by the firefighters, Henley turned the simulator off demonstrating that even seasoned professionals don’t always have complete control of a situation involving fire, even a fake one.
“The portable fire extinguisher class at Chatham Woods gave us the chance to not only teach important safety skills, but to also get to know members of our community in a non-emergency situation,” said Knops, who obviously enjoyed her interaction with residents of the 55 and older apartment complex.
“My favorite part of the program was seeing the residents performing the extinguishing skills,” said Knops.
“The simulator was very helpful for practice, but I think everybody should back up training with fire drills,” said Taylor. “Making sure you also have an escape plan is good, too.”
In addition to learning how to properly use a fire extinguisher, members of the fire department also discussed other fire safety issues such as proper prevention and detection equipment and a central meeting place if a fire should break out in the building.
“I think it was informative,” said resident John Lachner. “It was mostly common sense things a person should know already.”
“We asked the fire department to do a training with residents because we felt it was important everyone know how to safely use the extinguishers in their apartments,” said Perkins. “We’ve also had a couple of residents ask for training.”
“Our Fire and Life Safety Team welcomes every opportunity to conduct life safety education programs in the community,” said Knops. ”Empowering members of our community with safety skills and knowledge is very important to Elkin Fire Department.”
“I would recommend this training for other businesses and residential locations,” said Perkins. “Knowledge can make the difference in safely putting out a small fire or being harmed. [The training] gives each attendee confidence in knowing the proper steps — PASS.”
Businesses and organizations interested in a life safety education program can fill out a request form at http://www.elkinfire.com/home/contact-us/.
Beanie Taylor can be reached at 336-258-4058 or on Twitter @TBeanieTaylor.