Bainbridge Fire Department’s fire safety trailer has been used more than 25 years to teach safety in homes.
Now, Bainbridge Police Chief Lou Ann Metz said the department is in the process of looking for a replacement. “It needs more money than is justified to update it,” she said. “We don’t use it anymore. The wood floor is rotting.”
A new one is needed, however, because the trailer plays a “huge part in fire training and public education in fire safety,” she said. It was used in many programs, including during the annual Safety Town for those entering kindergarten in the Kenston Local School District.
It was used at the Great Geauga County Fair and for other community functions, Chief Metz said. It can be used for senior citizen education and at the fire department’s Citizen Academy which offers a program with weekly class sessions on the activities of the fire department.
During Citizen Academy sessions, the department presents information about use of home fire alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and the safety trailer could be incorporated into those sessions, according to Chief Metz.
A new one would cost an estimated $70,000, she said. That is compared to the old one, which cost about $35,000 years ago and had no technological devices.
The new one will have upgrades such as digitally projected fires, she noted. “We can do education programs inside the trailer.
“We have to find the right unit and one that will last 20 to 25 years,” Chief Metz noted. “We want to serve the community.”
There are some who are already working towards raising funds for the trailer. “Hopefully, we can raise enough funds and not take it out of the fire department funding,” she said.
The trailer is taken to many places including Arden Courts in Bainbridge for community education programs.
Most people learn by doing, practice and review, which is offered through the safety trailer. It creates a high retention rate for education, she said.
The trailer is set up like a house with a living area and it can generate “theater” smoke. While there is no actual fire, it helps simulate a blaze and people learn about getting out of a house during such an event. “It is very effective,” Chief Metz said.
“We’ll be researching the trailers and when we know the costs, we will work to secure funding,” she said.
Statistics show active fire education programs help prevent home fires and accidental fires. “It’s a critical focus of the fire department,” Chief Metz said.
We are looking at fundraising possibilities,” Chief Metz said of procuring the trailer, and they are in the process of choosing the trailer to meet the department’s needs. They want to pick out a model by the middle of October with the goal of having it for use by 2020.
Assistant Chief Wayne Burge has been using the safety trailer for many years. “The important part is teaching fire safety to kids and adults,” he said.
The safety trailer has a kitchen with a working stove and a refrigerator. “We talk about the hazards of boiling water, what not to put in microwaves and not to put things into the toaster,” he said.
They also talk about what they should and should not have around the fireplace. “We teach kids and adults what to do and not to do,” he said of the fire safety programs. The trailer has smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers.
They even practice what to do in a tornado. In a simulated event, the windows are blacked out and they teach what to do and not to do in storms. In the bedroom of the trailer, they show how if one is in the bedroom and the closed door is heating up because of a fire, one should escape out the window and fire escape ladders are demonstrated.
“We had a smoke machine that generated a fake smoke and everyone learned how to stay low,” he said.
Due to the rotting floor, the trailer was put out of service about a year ago, Assistant Chief Burge said. “We got our money’s worth out of it.”
Chagrin Falls Fire Department and the Streetsboro Fire Department have fire safety trailers, but Bainbridge is the only department in Geauga County with one. “We took it to other departments in the county and it got a lot of use,” Assistant Chief Burge said.
“It’s a great, great tool,” he said. Now, he has been researching safety trailer manufacturers. “We have started collecting donations,” he said.