Manhattan Fire Dept. teaches fire safety and prevention at annual open house

MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - As National Fire Prevention Week comes to a close, the Manhattan Fire Department is giving families a first-hand look at what they do year-round to keep the city safe.

"When people see us, I want people to say, 'that’s our fire department,’ not ‘the fire department,’” Captain Gregg Van De Creek with the Manhattan Fire Department, said. “I love being a firefighter. I really love being a Manhattan firefighter."

Van De Creek’s passion for the job started when he was young.

"When I was probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, I remember the day the fire department came and talked to me at my school,” he said “I just remember how important that was, and how special I felt, and how excited they were."

On Sunday, he and the rest of Manhattan Fire Department passed the torch to the next generation, teaching members of the Manhattan community life-saving lessons in a hands-on way.

"Our mission statement talks about helping people,” Deputy Chief Ryan Almes said. “One of the ways is teaching fire safety, and also just teaching the public about what it is we do."

Van De Creek said topics included staying low to the ground when there’s smoke in the house, making sure to have two exits out of your room, and having an escape plan ahead of time.

Sunday's annual open house culminates all the lessons learned throughout the prior week's National Fire Prevention Week.

This year's theme was "Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape.

"We really hope that families will come here, think about that, create a fire escape plan, go home and practice it,” Almes said.

Nearly 14,000 people came to the open house to hear that message and meet the firefighters that keep them safe every day.

"Every one of them I try and give them my full attention and energy, because I always remember how impactful that can be for them and how much it can really mean,” Van De Creek said.