By Patrick Winderl/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
As part of National Fire Prevention Week, the Havre Fire Department is opening its doors to the public.
Firefighters will host tours of the fire hall every day this week through Saturday from 1 to 7 p.m. Visitors will get to see the fire hall and the department's newest firetruck, said Assistant Fire Chief Tim Ranes.
Firefighters will be on hand to administer free blood pressure and glucose level tests, Ranes said.
"Typically we have anywhere from 75 to 150 people come through," he said. "Just yesterday we had 80 people come through."
Refreshments will be served and people can enter a daily drawing for smoke detectors and children's safety helmets, Ranes said.
National Fire Prevention Week has been held every October since 1922. What now spans a week started in 1911 as Fire Prevention Day, which President Woodrow Wilson declared Oct. 9 to mark the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire killed 250 people and destroyed 17,000 buildings.
The fire prompted communities to recognize the importance of fire prevention as a firefighting tool, according to the National Fire Protection Association.
Eleven years after Wilson declared Fire Prevention Day, President Warren Harding extended the event to cover a week, a tradition his successors have followed for 81 years.
President Bush declared the theme of this year's Fire Prevention Week to be "When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!" The theme focuses on two main goals: encouraging people to install smoke detectors in their homes and check them on a regular basis, and getting families to develop and practice home fire drills.
"Get out of your house," Ranes said. "Don't call 911 from inside the house, don't try to save your cat. Get out and have a safe meeting place. That, and check your smoke detectors once a month to make sure they're working."
The two lessons were drilled home to young students last week when Havre firefighter Tim Evans visited elementary schools to perform a puppet show. Using puppets as props, Evans emphasized the importance of fire prevention and safety, Ranes said.
Several areas schools have arranged to take field trips to the fire hall this week, Havre Fire Chief Dave Sheppard said.
"We have some young kids coming, and they seem to really enjoy it," he said.
Havre firefighters are especially excited to show off the department's new firetruck, Ranes said. The urban interface pumper was purchased by the city with the help of a large federal grant. The truck was ordered last year and delivered in August.
"It serves a dual purpose for us," Ranes said. "It fights grass fires and serves as a backup truck for our structure fires. It can be used for just about anything we have in the area."
The truck cost $182,000, $162,000 of which was covered by a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, Ranes said. The grant was the largest the agency awarded in Montana last year, he added.
The truck is equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including a water nozzle that can be controlled by a joystick within the cab of the truck.
"It has a monitor on the bumper and a joystick that controls the direction of the nozzle," Ranes said. "You don't even have to leave the truck to direct the water."
The truck has four-wheel drive and can deliver 750 gallons of water a minute, Ranes said.
"It's tough in this day and age to get a new piece of equipment," he said. "So this is really good for us and the community of Havre. Our next newest truck is a 1991. It's nice to have something this new."