By Lisa Pett
Dozens of children from the community learned what it takes to be firefighters when they attended Park Ridge Fire Department’s open house on Saturday.
Fire Chief Brian Lepper developed the idea behind the event which combined fire safety education as well as fitness for local children.
Lepper, along with James Jernberg, owner and operator of Fitneral Crossfit in Park Ridge created activity stations simulating firefighting skills like swinging an ax, carrying victims to safety and manning real firehoses.
“This is the first time we’ve ever done an event like this,” said Chief Lepper. “We’d like to try to make it an annual event if we can.”
Besides learning about CPR and exploring the fire trucks, the kids got first hand experience in home exit plans in the Portage County Fire Safety Smokehouse.
Jernberg was on hand to assist in fitness instruction and form as kids went from activity to activity.
“Firefighting is a physical job,” said Jernberg, who provides exercise space for police and firefighters at his facility. “This is a good way to introduce kids to fitness.”
Families lined up to register for the free event even before it began at 10 AM and were welcomed by McGruff the Crime Dog and Smokey the Bear.
October 9th-15th is National Fire Prevention Week. According to Lepper, this year’s campaign theme is “Don’t Wait! Check the Date!” and reminds all families to replace smoke alarms in their homes every 10 years.
“Some folks build their house and install alarms but don’t realize that they need to be replaced eventually,” said Chief Lepper.
After completing activities, kids found their way to the prize table where they all took home a small prize.
More information on replacing home smoke alarms can be found at the National Fire Protection Association’s website at NFPA.org.