Both volunteer and paid firefighters from Tolland's fire department opened their doors to the public on Saturday, during the 14th-annual Fire Department Open House at the .
Residents were able to enjoy pizza, donated by Papa Gino’s, and cotton candy, take pictures in vehicles such as a Tolland ambulance and fire truck and watch the town’s hard-working firefighters demonstrate their skills as crews pulled apart a car mimicking an extrication process.
Tolland Fire Department captain Michael Evans said that the event is important to building connections between the emergency responders and the community.
“It’s important to give the community an awareness of what the fire department does,” he said. Also exhibited on Saturday, were pictures of Tolland’s more famous fires, as well as a display of typical equipment that a responder uses.
While the crowds had fun at the station, the department took the opportunity to communicate important safety messages, such as a car seat safety station, run by the Windham County chapter of Safe Kids Connecticut.
Ellington resident and mother Laura Casey said that she learned the importance of checking a car seat’s expiration, as well as other essential car seat use tips from the Safe Kids’ representatives. She explained that she was surprised at the amount of information she learned during the session.
“Actually I did [learn a lot], although I hate to admit it,” she said, with a laugh. Representatives also gave away car seats to those families who had improper seating for their child, so that each child left the station safer than when they came.
Windham County Safe Kids representative Marisol Feliciano said that the majority of issues arise when parents either use car seats improperly, often times by allowing kids to travel without them at too young of an age, or, that parents use car seats that have expired. For more information on car seat safety and the Safe Kids organization, be sure to visit the group’s Web site.
Tolland's fire department also stressed the importance of fire safety and actively promoted home fire prevention, with a selling station for Scentsy warmers. According to Scentsy consultant Joan Zagora the warmers melt scented wax using the heat of a 25-, 20- or 15-watt bulb, which Zagora says firefighters prefer to more traditional candles.
“You can never burn down a house with a 25-watt bulb,” Zagora said. While Zagora offered a variety of scents and warmers featuring college logos or military branches, she is also giving Tolland residents the ability to give back to their first responders by donating a certain percentage of her profits from products purchased on her Web site to Tolland’s Explorer Post 40. The post gives volunteers ages 14 to 19 the opportunity to experience working in the firefighting and emergency medical response field.
And while safety awareness is always a goal for Tolland’s fire department, Public Information Officer Seale Tuttle said that Tolland’s firefighters hope that the open house entertained, as well.
“We’re pleased with the turnout,” he said. “We hope all of the kids had a good time.”