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Fire Department Hosts Open House

Nov 30, 2015 06:00AM ● By Steven Chisholm

BFD Lt. Greg Proulx does a fire extinguisher demo.

On Saturday, Oct. 24, the Bellingham Fire Department hosted an open house for the general public. People were invited to enjoy free food, refreshments, and goodies including children’s firefighter helmets, bracelets, and coloring books. Also, among other things, the children attending the event were treated to group coloring sessions and face painting.

The event, organized by Lt. Neil Coakley, allowed the town’s residents a rare inside look at the fire station. “[The residents] pay their taxes, and this is the perfect opportunity to show what type of equipment their taxes are going toward,” said Coakley. Namely, he pointed out the station’s newest fire truck, Engine 2, which was specially outfitted to assist firefighters during strenuous circumstances. Unique to Engine 2 are the dual retractable tools located at the front end, used commonly for car accidents. “The generator on top powers the tools. Before, we would have to lug big motors out into the street to power the tools; this gives us quicker response times,” said Chief Steven Gentile.

Also new to the station was a handheld thermal imaging camera. With the addition of this new technology, Coakley explained that he and his fellow firefighters won’t have to knock down walls searching for errant fires. Instead, the thermal imaging camera can pick up on heat signals through walls, floors, and ceilings. Visitors were permitted to test out the camera to learn the other functions of the device.

Guests at the open house were also allowed to board and explore the insides of the engines and ambulances. Several firefighters accompanied the guests and described the vehicle’s components. Also, the guests at the event were permitted to wield an operational firehose, with the assistance of firefighters Joseph Manning and Peter Washburn, and participate in a tour of the station’s training facility.

A fire extinguisher demo was performed periodically throughout the event. Lt. Greg Prew described the essentials of dealing with a fire within one’s home before demonstrating the use of an extinguisher on a makeshift stovetop fire.

Summarizing the open house, firefighter and paramedic Daniel Viveiros said, “It’s a great way of letting people know that we’re here for them and to welcome them into our home.”
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