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Fire department unveils new education house

by Chris Daponte

MOUNT FOREST - It’s the first of its kinds in Ontario, but for local children, Wellington North Fire Services’ new escape planning house is simply fun and educational.

Several kids seemed to have a blast travelling over and over again through the fake smoke-filled inflatable house during its official unveiling on Jan. 7 at the Mount Forest fire station.

“It’s a great tool,” said Jason Benn, fire prevention and public education officer with the Wellington North department.

Over 40 people attended the unveiling, including Mayor Ray Tout, as well as local firefighters and members of the Kin Club of Mount Forest, which agreed almost immediately last year to cover the costs for the $11,000 fire escape house.

“It was overwhelming to receive that support so quick,” Benn said. “I was fully prepared to go to other service clubs as well.”

Steve Hill, past president of the Kin Club, called the donation “a no-brainer,” explaining the club receives great exposure with the house, and more importantly, the unit helps provide a valuable service to the community.

“If it saves only one life, it will be well worth it,” Hill said.

The education house, which measures 20 feet long by 10 feet wide and 12 feet high, includes education banners in each of three rooms, representing a kitchen, living room and bedroom. It is just the second of its kind in Canada.

During visits to the education house, children will receive an initial tour before they are invited to start a fire escape plan for their own homes. Then they will go back into the inflatable house to put their lessons to practice in a smoke-filled environment.

“This is a great opportunity for all of Wellington North,” Tout said of the house. He thanked the Kin Club for its donation and assured club officials it was money well spent.

Benn said the house will make regular appearances throughout the township at schools, churches and community events.

As an added bonus, all Wellington North children that go through the house will be entered into a contest for a pizza dinner with Sparky the Fire Dog and local firefighters.

But Benn stressed the new educational house is not just for use in the township.

“It’s definitely going to be well used,” he said.

Benn explained the unit will be loaned to other fire departments in the area, several of which have already expressed interest.

The idea for the escape planning house came up several years ago, when Benn and other Wellington North fire officials discussed different ways of educating the public.

After searching the Internet, they came across the inflatable education house, which Benn said is a great complement to other fire department education initiatives.

“This is another big piece of the pie,” he said with a smile before inviting those at the unveiling to enjoy a piece of complimentary cake.

 For more information about the fire escape planning education house call 519-323-1441.

January 13, 2012


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