Moments after climbing down a short ladder as artificial smoke swirled over his head, Carter Brokaw was ready to share what he had just learned at Saturday's open house conducted by the Fort Dodge Fire Department.
''When there's a fire, get out the window,'' the 7-year-old from Fort Dodge said.
He said going through the trailer known as the smokehouse and climbing down the ladder from its top level was the most interesting thing he did during the afternoon event.
-Messenger photo by Bill Shea
Alex Tiernan, 7, of Fort Dodge, uses an extinguisher with the help of Iowa Central Community College fire science student Devan Schipper during the open house held Saturday by the Fort Dodge Fire Department. Using an extinguisher was one of three activities children had to complete at the open house to earn a ticket for a free meal from Hardee’s.
His visit to the smokehouse helped him earn credit for a free kids meal from Hardee's and taught him a safety lesson firefighters across the nation are emphasizing.
''This year's theme for the national Fire Prevention Week is two ways out,'' said Assistant Fire Chief Doug Ostbloom. ''That means two ways out of the house, and two ways out of the room. And that isn't any good unless you practice it. The smokehouse enables us to do that.''
Identifying two ways to escape from a house and from each room ensures that people will still have a way to get out if fire or smoke prevents them from using one of the exits, he said.
The smokehouse escape drill was one of three activities children had to complete to earn a ticket for a free meal.
Using a fire extinguisher to put out a small blaze was one of the other activities. Assisted by fire science students from Iowa Central Community College, the children sprayed water from fire extinguishers that were, in some cases, almost as tall as they are. They doused flames from a propane burner set up in the garage area of the firehouse at 1515 Central Ave.
''We don't expect children to use extinguishers,'' Ostbloom said. ''We expect them to get out. But it gives them something hands-on to do.''
Learning to stop, drop and roll in case their clothing catches fire was the final activity the children had to complete to earn their free meal.
Brokaw's grandfather, Bill Miller Sr., of Fort Dodge, said he brings his grandchildren to the open house every year.
''They have a blast,'' he said.
He added that they do learn things at the event.
In addition to teaching fire safety to children, the open house is also an opportunity to show the public what the Fire Department does, according to Ostbloom.
''It's their Fire Department,'' he said. ''This shows them where the tax dollars go.''
Ostbloom and other firefighters conducted tours of the firehouse. Three Fire Department vehicles were parked in front of the building, and in the rear, the department's 105 foot aerial ladder was set up with a large American flag flying from its tip.