Open house promotes fire prevention

October 05, 1997


Staff Writer

LONGMEADOW - Matthew Amalfitano sat enthralled Sunday afternoon as Lt. Justin Mayhue told a group of children and their parents how to avoid household fire hazards.

Most of the talk was old hat to the 7-year-old Preston Road resident, who has learned about fire safety since preschool. But his father, Thomas Amalfitano, said much was new to him. He said he was surprised to learn that Sunday was not the first time his son has been inside a fire truck.

"It was my first time," he said.

Amalfitano, 35, credited programs like Sunday's open house at the Longmeadow Volunteer Fire Co. with his children's awareness.

"Certainly, the education has gotten a lot better over the years," he said. "I remember as a kid, we would have, maybe, one field trip."


Mayhue, who had repeated his fire talk five times by 4 p.m., said children as young as 3 now know basic concepts like "stop, drop and roll."

"It has greatly improved over the years. Children are learning at an earlier age than ever before," he said. "You'd be amazed at how much children are able to teach their parents."

The open house, which kicked off National Fire Prevention Week, also featured a demonstration by an ambulance medic from Community Rescue Service and visits from Smokey Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog.

Children had a chance to inspect fire trucks and other vehicles from volunteer fire companies in Longmeadow, Maugansville, Leitersburg and the hazardous materials team.

One popular activity was a contest measuring how fast children could knock a basketball off a trash can with a fire hose.

"I liked the fire hose. It was fun to squirt," said 9-year-old Jonathan Porter, a Cub Scout from Pack 103.

Michael Digirolamo, 9, agreed, but added that handling a fire hose is more difficult than he expected. The spray from the hose blocked his view.

"I thought it was hard because you couldn't see the basketball," he said.

Assistant Chief Scott Ricker said this is the third straight year Longmeadow has hosted an open house during Fire Prevention Week. In past years, he said the company has set cars on fire to demonstrate vehicle blazes.

"This year was kind of toned it down a little bit. It changes from year to year," he said. "It's something for the kids - really something for the whole family - but kids have a lot of fun."

Amalfitano said it also sparked thought about fire safety in his own home.

"I think now that the children are older, it will certainly become part of our routine," he said.

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