The latest piece of firefighting equipment arriving for the Escalon Consolidated Fire Protection District won’t be going to any fires.
Instead, it will be used to help educate kids about fire safety.
A converted travel trailer, the safety house on wheels has a kitchen, living room area and a bedroom ‘loft’ – each room equipped with safety messages, staged safety hazards and teaching tools.
“It came from the City of Fairfield,” Escalon Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro said.
He spotted the trailer – which was in a state of disrepair – in a parking lot in Fairfield as he was delivering a fire truck.
“I talked to the fleet mechanic,” Pinheiro said of touching base with fire and city officials in Fairfield and, one thing led to another, with the trailer eventually gifted to Escalon. The fire department in Fairfield, Pinheiro said, did not plan to use it anymore and Pinheiro said he saw an opportunity to put the trailer to good use.
Budget issues saw the trailer fall out of use in Fairfield, but that city’s loss is Escalon’s gain, said Pinheiro.
The trailer was donated and Escalon firefighters went to pick it up, then garnered donations from several community businesses and service clubs to get it back into shape.
“It took months to get the vinyl off, but we have re-done the vinyl, made repairs, we got donations from about 95 percent of the service groups in town and Hogan Manufacturing was a big help as well,” Pinheiro said.
Also making major contributions were Escalon Body & Frame, Starkey’s RV and the Referral Auto Group. Among the local service clubs assisting were Kiwanis, Masonic Lodge, Rotary and American Legion Post 263, as well as the Firefighters Burn Institute.
The refurbished “Partners in Prevention” kids safety house trailer will be used for school fire safety presentations and Pinheiro said he is eager to utilize it in the fall when the department does their fire prevention week appearances at local elementary schools.
Information provided during tours includes how and when to use 9-1-1, what to do if trapped in a smoky home, determining if a door is safe to use and making sure to have a safe family meeting spot in case of emergency.
A new trailer of this type today would cost about $50,000 – but this one is being put in to service behind the donations and plenty of elbow grease from firefighters, said Pinheiro.
“Every room has a smoke vent, a smoke detector, a heating and air conditioning vent, an exhaust vent,” explained Pinheiro.
There is also a ‘control room’ through which fire officials can create the hazards in the home. A monitor outside plays a fire safety video for school groups while they wait their turn to tour the inside.
“It’s a learning tool,” Pinheiro said. “We’ll be able to get with the kids on more than just our fire prevention week tours; we will target mostly the second and third grade level.”
Pinheiro said the department can’t offer enough thanks to contributors, which allowed the safety house to be “put together with little to no taxpayer money.”
He said some service clubs have already come out to Station 2 on Highway 120, where the trailer is located, to take a tour.
“We’ll roll it out in September or October,” Pinheiro added. “We’re partners in prevention; I’ve always wanted one of these … never thought I could afford it.”
Fire Chief Rick Mello echoed the thanks for the donors that stepped up and said it will be a true benefit to the community, especially the kids.
“It’s always exciting to have an opportunity like this that doesn’t cost a lot of money … it really hasn’t cost us anything but time and labor and it will be a great way to reach the kids.”