Families huddled close together, pressing against yellow-caution tape, as they eagerly strained to witness a vehicle-rescue in action.
On the other side of the tape, several Lower Providence firefighters were gathered around a silver car that was flipped on its side. The vehicle’s windshield was smashed, its hood was crumpled, and the crunch of glass could be heard under the heavy boots of each firefighter’s step.
Lower Providence fire fighter lieutenant, Wes Griffith, narrated the action for the gathered audience, explaining that if anyone were to be caught in this wreckage, they would certainly be trapped.
He described how the firefighters worked quickly but methodically to stabilize the car and free any passengers inside by completely removing the vehicle’s roof.
Once the howls of metal being surgically ripped apart subsided, the firefighters walked the roof a few feet over, revealing a new and permanent convertible.
They also made sure that the top of the roof was still visible to the audience, as on it were spray-painted the words:
“Don’t Text and Drive.”
“On the roof is ‘Don’t Text and Drive,’ because this could be the result,” Ryan Wells, LPFD firefighter and rescue technician, said. “This could happen.”
According to Griffith, LPFD responds to at least one vehicle rescue a month. He also points out that calls for fire emergencies have been decreasing over the last five years in the township.
Griffith gives large credit to emergency responder outreach and education events, such as this year’s National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7 – 13, as well as the LPFD Open House, which took place on Oct. 12.
Griffith said he’s hoping that vehicle-rescue demonstrations at such outreach events will also help spark a similar downward trend in vehicle emergency rescues.
Where Community and First Responders Meet
“We do this every year,” James Alexander, LPFD deputy chief, said of the LPFD Open House. “It’s a good way for the community to come out to our house.”
Alexander said that LPFD has held this particular event since its inception in 1945. He said that the event is very youth-focused, as it is often the culmination of a week’s worth of educating community youth on fire prevention and safety.
“We enjoy the kids,” Alexander said. “The kids can go home and practice fire drills and get their parents to do them, as well.”
No official count is ever taken during the Open House, but Alexander estimates that a couple of hundred visitors come to the fire house, which is located at 3199 Ridge Pike in Eagleville.
During the event, youth visitors were welcomed to practice fire drills and explore the various emergency vehicles they learned about during the week.
“We came here because he came from school and he loved the fire trucks,” Hitesh Uppal said of his son, Chitraksh, who had a visit from the LPFD at his school, St. Andrew’s Lutheran School, just that morning.
“We come every year. We love this,” Karen Smith, who was with her daughter Sophia, said. “It’s very informative and it’s great for the children to get to meet the rescuers.”
According to LPFD firefighter Justin Weber, the youth-focused activities, including a scavenger hunt and a firefighter in full gear handing out balloons, are designed to help youth trust and reach out to firefighters during times of emergency.
“The biggest part is to let the kids see us and not be afraid of us and the large vehicles,” Weber said. “The biggest emphasis is fire safety.”
Visitors of the Oct. 12 LPFD Open House, whose members comprise of an all-volunteer fire company, also had the opportunity to meet with other volunteer fire fighters from neighboring municipalities.
“It’s a fun night,” Joe Massio, Jefferson Fire Company firefighter of 10 years, said of the open house. “I do it every year.”
Massio explained that LPFD has special vehicles or equipment and vice-versa, which means that the surrounding fire companies often head out to the same scene in support of one another. The LPFD Open House is just another way to support their fellow firefighters.
Among the other fire companies to support the Oct. 12 Open House were Worcester Fire Company, Black Rock Fire Company and the Collegeville Fire Department.
Fore more information, visit www.lpfire.com.