Open house: Layton family recalls terror of home fire

Oct 3 2013 - 5:07pm

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Visitors at the Layton Fire Department Open House watch an expanding ball of flame during a demonstration on grease fires at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Sophia Weller tries out fire hoses with her mom, Maria Weller with assistance from Layton city firefighters at the Layton Fire Department Open House at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Firefighters give a demonstration on how they navigate smoke-filled rooms to kids at the Layton Fire Department Open House at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Visitors at the Layton Fire Department Open House watch an expanding ball of flame during a demonstration on grease fires at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Sophia Weller tries out fire hoses with her mom, Maria Weller with assistance from Layton city firefighters at the Layton Fire Department Open House at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)
Firefighters give a demonstration on how they navigate smoke-filled rooms to kids at the Layton Fire Department Open House at Station #51 in Layton on Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2013. Hundreds of families came out for events and exhibits put on by first responders and safety organizations from around the region. (BENJAMIN ZACK/Standard-Examiner)

LAYTON -- The Smith family of Layton knows the realities of what a house fire looks like, having awoken in the middle of the night many years ago to the sound of neighbors banging on the door for help. The Smiths did all they could to help as a neighbor's home went up in flames.

The event inspired the Smith family, who at the time didn't have fire alarms in the home they had just purchased, into action. They bought fire and smoke alarms, carbon monoxide detectors, and even a metal ladder for access to the ground from the second story. They had watched the father of the burning house jump from the second story with third-degree burns; he broke several bones after the fall.

"It really scared us, especially our kids, who saw it first-hand," said Lisa Smith. "You always think you are safe, but we saw it can happen to anyone."

Smith said they don't have the opportunity to practice often at home, so they decided to attend Layton City's annual Kendall O. Bryant Fire Prevention Awareness Day Open House held Wednesday at Layton City Fire Station 51.

Approximately 2,000 people participated in the activities.

Due to the government shutdown Smokey the Bear and the Coast Guard were unable to attend, said Fire Inspector Doug Bitton. However, there were many activities for the patrons in attendance -- despite the on-and-off rain -- including a chance to ride in a fire engine around the block, to watch how fast a fire can destroy a room from a cooking fire, to witness firefighters pull out the jaws of life to crack open a crashed car, and to experience an earthquake in the fire marshal's earthquake trailer.

After watching a fire in a pot full of oil burst into flames when water was added, 9-year-old Ethan Nimer of Layton was shocked.

"I thought it was pretty spooky how the cold water made it go really big," said Nimer.

He learned from the exhibit that putting a lid on the pot, using a fire extinguisher, and calling 911 were far better options than using water in an oil-related fire.

His dad was glad he had brought his son to the event, saying, "It is important to see it in real life, so we can see the reaction, rather than just describing it."

Layton Fire Capt. Lance Beech had that exact concept in mind when they borrowed a wrecked car from a local towing company and showed spectators how fast officers can open up the car with the Jaws of Life.

Within 10 minutes, the crew of firefighters had the passenger door and the entire top half of the car torn off of the wrecked car.

"It's important for them to see us do this on a wrecked car so if they are ever in that situation, they can be calm and know that we will get them out," said Beech. "This is a good opportunity for them to see that we are highly trained professionals, and we're ready and can get the job done."

The newest demonstration this year was the fire marshal's earthquake trailer.

After filing inside, groups of people stood in what looked like a small apartment with a kitchenette, desk, and lights. Unexpectedly, a loud, roaring noise filled the trailer, simulating what an earthquake sounds like.

"It sounded like a big, loud thunder crash," said 11-year-old Emily Wilcox. "I thought it was just going to be more like the sound of a car rolling down the street, but it was so loud, I thought I was going to die because that is what I think when I hear really loud noises."

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