Public Fire Safety Day is Oct. 5Published 10:24am Monday, September 30, 2013
Free event open to community
Coal Grove volunteer firefighter Dane Haukedahl won the firefighters’ challenge at last year’s Public Fire Safety Day, the first time someone from that department has won since the challenge began five years ago.
“I am interested to see if any of these other departments can take the title away,” Gary Sherman, Coal Grove fire chief, said.
And so it begins.
Winning challenges, however, is secondary to the real meaning of safety day, which is being part of the community.
“The event is hosted by Coal Grove and Upper Township fire departments,” Sherman said. “Many people don’t know it but Coal Grove and Upper Township respond to calls together automatically.”
The joint response, Sherman said, is because of a trending shortage of volunteer firefighters not only locally, but nationwide.
“It’s getting harder and harder to find new people,” Sherman said. “We constantly picked up new people when I started doing this 32 years ago. By responding together, we simply have more manpower. Several places I know of are starting to do the same thing.”
Sherman admits that for many volunteer firefighters, it’s a family thing. His father was a firefighter and he followed in his footsteps.
The safety day is not only a community event that is open to the public from across the region, it contains a facet that is aimed at garnering interest in being a volunteer firefighter.
“We have a kids’ challenge and it is one of our more popular events every year,” Sherman said.
Kids who participate in the challenge will have to negotiate an obstacle course, drag lightweight dummies to a cone, run a short distance, connect a hose to a hydrant and spray a makeshift house made out of plywood.
“When the windows fall in, the challenge is over,” Sherman said.
The safety day is in its seventh year and this year’s event will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Oct. 5 with a parade. The parade will end at Paul Porter Park and other festivities will begin shortly after, about 11 a.m.
“We have a lot of other agencies who are involved in this event, too,” Sherman said. “The sheriff’s office, Ohio State Police, regular EMS and tactical EMS, Air Evac, community action and others. Just about any agency you can think of will be there handing out literature.”
Sherman says the event being free is important and since it is open to the general public, donations — either monetary contributions or door prizes — are vital to the event.
“Each year we go out and seek donations and our sponsors are awesome people,” Sherman said. “We never ask for a penny in return. We give away everything our sponsors give us.”
Sherman said as the event continues to grow, the donations keep getting bigger; more than 300 attended last year.
Since its inception safety day has occurred in October, which is National Fire Safety Month.