‘Open house’ at Laval’s firehalls draws out the child in us all

Family event held in conjunction with annual Fire Prevention Week

As any adult in the habit of scrutinizing the toy section in department or discount stores probably knows, toy fire engines remain a perennial favourite among children – regardless of whether they are girls or boys.

Whatever generation you belong to, there is something about the shiny crimson red of the body paint, the blinking lights, and the shrill sounds of real or toy fire engines that continues to inspire children.

Firefighters with the Laval Fire Dept. are seen here with residents of the city’s Sainte-Dorothée district in one of the exit bays at the No. 4 firehall during the open house on Sunday Oct. 9. (Photo: Martin C. Barry, Newsfirst Multimedia)

“They sure do,” said Jennifer Urquhart, who was visiting the city’s No. 4 firehall in Sainte-Dorothée with her children and some friends on Oct. 9 during an annual open house event the fire department holds for fire prevention week.

Learning at the firehall

Once a year, the Laval Fire Department puts out the welcome mat at its firehalls across the island. During this year’s event, held in conjunction with Fire Prevention Week, kids of all ages had the opportunity to get up close to the shiny, bright red ladder and pump trucks parked in the firehall garages.

According to Urquhart, the children – Joshua, Amelia and their friend Matteo – had been looking forward to visiting the Sainte-Dorothée firehall for some time. “We’ve had it on the family calendar for a month now,” she said, noting it was the third or fourth year they attended the open house at their local firehall.

From morning to late afternoon, children and their parents got a chance to learn all about the work of firefighters, to watch and take part in equipment demonstrations, to receive fire prevention advice, and even to climb into a truck and feel what it’s like to do the work of a firefighter.

Fire prevention advice

During Fire Prevention Week, the Quebec Ministry of Public Security was emphasizing the importance of taking steps to protect households, noting that half of residential fires are caused by human error. It is estimated that 13 homes are damaged every day by fire, leading to 400 injuries and 29,000 people forced from their homes.

The Public Security Ministry says more and more fires are caused by devices powered by lithium-ion batteries, such as cellphones, computers and even scooters and electric bikes. Batteries in these types of devices should be checked regularly to see they are not damaged, and chargers that meet Canadian safety standards should only be used to make sure batteries don’t overheat.