TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) -- In 2011, more than 1,600 residential fires were reported in the state of Kansas. The Topeka Fire Department has a new set of wheels to keep families out of harm’s way – and it’s not a fire truck.
“We never know where fires are going to start, or when they’re going to happen, so we need to be prepared at any moment in time,” said TFD public education officer Mitchell Paige.
TFD's new Fire Safety Trailer is a hands-on, educational approach to teaching the public proper safety procedures.
The trailer is modeled after a typical home, focusing on a children’s bedroom and kitchen. With the push of a button, common household fire hazards go up in flames.
The oven sparks, the stove catches fire and smoke fills the trailer – all of it safe to inhale.
“Watch as we make this toaster smoke,” demonstrated Paige, “So what would we do here? Alert 911 and quickly unplug the power from that appliance.”
The burning home simulator graduates children from stop, drop and roll -- teaching them how to detect danger hands-on.
“There’s actually a heated door that children can feel with the back of their hands to make a decision. Smoke also comes in the room underneath the door,” said Paige.
It’s during this phase that TFD shows children how to block the incoming smoke with a towel and make their way to the bedroom window – where hopefully a firefighter will be at their rescue.
“It helps them put it all together: feel with the back of your hand, get low beneath the smoke and escape,” said Paige.
In addition to teaching fire evacuation, fire prevention and kitchen safety are taught while participants move throughout the trailer.
Paige suggests keeping appliances far from curtains, keeping pots on the back burner and installing child locks on cabinets containing chemicals to prevent potential disasters. He hopes the trailer will encourage families to create an evacuation plan for their own homes.
“The parents loved it, the kids loved it -- it was exciting! It's such a real scenario that the kids really get some benefit out of it,” said Paige.
TFD will take the trailer to area schools to educate more children on fire safety procedure.