|Fire safety is a year-round activity|
|October 09, 2014 Jerry Purvis|
Courtesy photo - Sparky reminds parade goers about fire safety during the Oregon Trail Days parade.
For the past 100 years, members of the Gering Volunteer Fire Department have been active with both firefighting and educating the public about fire safety issues.
Jay Templar, Gering’s current Fire Chief, said members are certified in two primary areas: structure fires and wildfires.
“We offer certification through the Nebraska Fire Marshal’s Office
training division for two levels of firefighting,” he said. “We also offer training for several levels of certification for wildland fires. The certification group is the National Wildfire Coordination Group. We have instructors here and also have training from members of the National Forest Service and the State of Wyoming.”
Emergency Medical Technician training is also offered to members of the Gering Fire Department, with some training offered through Western Nebraska Community College and Regional West Medical Center. Other training covers dive rescues and rope rescues.
“Our firefighters usually start with getting certified as Firefighter 1 on the structural side and Firefighter 2 on the wildland side,” Templar said.
As part of their commitment to ongoing training, the fire department has also built a new training building, where firefighters can practice their skills on real fires, how to perform rope rescues and other necessary skills firefighters need to have. And the facility is open for other emergency responder to use as well. Just recently, firefighters from the Bridgeport and Dalton areas came up to practice their skills.
Templar said they also have some new people certified in underwater rescue and they’ve already helped out other departments.
Templar said the department has Class A engines for structural fires, wildland engines specifically designed to battle wildland fires, and a rescue unit, which handles medical emergencies and also carries equipment to handle rope rescues and confined space rescues.
“We’re pretty fortunate to have acquired some nice equipment,”
Templar said. “It helps us do a better job keeping the people safe.”
This week is National Fire Prevention Week. Templar said the date was selected to coincide with the Great Chicago Fire, which burned 3.3 square miles of the city from Oct. 8-10, 1871, killing up to 300 people.
Templar said a lesser known tragedy happened the same day. The Great Peshtigo Fire is called the “forgotten fire” because the fire in Chicago dominated the press at the time.
The Peshtigo fire was the worst forest fire in recorded history, burning millions of dollars of timber and property in northeast Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, killing an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 people.
“Obviously fire prevention isn’t just a one week observation,” Templar said. “We have fire prevention visits year round. We go into the schools and also make presentations to businesses on the importance of fire safety and how to prevent them.”
He said one of their important focuses when talking with younger children is to emphasize that lighters and matches are tools, not toys. And they give rides on the equipment.
“The schools do a good job of talking about safety, so we emphasize prevention,” Templar said. “And we talk to them about the importance of having an escape plan for the home if a fire ever occurs.”
This Sunday, Oct. 12 from 1 – 3 p.m. the fire department will have an open house at the fire station on M Street, as well as at the training facility, located at the City Central Stores on D Street.
Templar said people can use the county parking lot on Rundell Road that day and the Gering Fire Department will provide a ride to the training facility in their antique American LaFrance fire truck.