CHARLESTON -- Local firefighters will demonstrate the misleading nature of smoke in a fire situation at this year’s fire department open house Saturday.

Charleston firefighters will be opening up their second station from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at 1510 A St. again this year for locals to get a look at the equipment at their disposal on a daily basis. The fire box will be a new addition to the slate of demonstrations planned that day.

In the metal fire box demonstration, expected to start around noon, firefighters will light the wood and close up the metal box until the fire is dropped down to a smolder with smoke filling the compartment.

They will then open the door fueling what seemed like a dead fire with oxygen igniting it. Capt. James Calvert of the Charleston Fire Department said this demonstrates that smoke can be deceiving.

“With this box, they can show how fire and smoke will behave when it is starved of oxygen and given a rapid source of oxygen,” Calvert said. “Smoke is nothing more than fire that has not been ignited yet... It is basically unburned fuel.”

“That smoke is just as dangerous as fire” he continued. “By opening a door or opening window to go back in and get an object or an item, all that nasty, thick, chunky smoke rolling through that building is nothing more than fire.”

Firefighters will also be demonstrating certain procedures like rappelling from a ladder truck and extricating people from a car during the open house.

They are expected to do the rappelling demo at 11 a.m., and the extrication will start at approximately 1 p.m.

Outside of the scheduled demonstrations, locals will be able to take tours throughout the station and look at some of the equipment and fire trucks those at the station use.

There will also be a junior firefighter obstacle course where children can go through scenarios like "putting out a fire," where they will knock down fire props with a hose.

Children will also be able to participate in simulations where a detector will "wake them up" and they must exit a door or window prop.

Again this year, guardians will be able to get digital copies of their child’s fingerprints.

This open house finishes off Fire Prevention Week. Calvert said a focus for the week has been about spreading information that might prevent a fire or prevent someone from getting injured in one.

Charleston firefighters spoke with 2,700 students across the Charleston school district throughout the week.

“By the time the kids get to fifth-grade, they have heard this five times,” Calvert said. “I got kids that can recite verbatim what we are teaching.”

The fire crew also went to local senior living homes and apartments to offer some fire extinguisher training.


Jarad Jarmon is a reporter for the JG-TC. He covers the city of Charleston, Eastern Illinois University, Mattoon schools and the Regional Office of Education.

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