Thursday, June 14, 2001

This house is a disaster

Evendale aims to save lives

By David Eck
Enquirer Contributor

        EVENDALE - With a severe-weather radio going off, lightning flashing near the windows and sounds of a thunderstorm rattling the inside of the simulated home, it was easy to think there was nasty weather outside.

        But the fury was just computer-generated magic, a key component of the Evendale Fire Department's new Life Safety Education Center.

        The center, a full-sized trailer outfitted with a working kitchen, living room and bedroom, is designed to teach students how to stay safe during a fire or storm.

        Most of the cost of the roughly $40,000 tool was paid with private donations. The center was dedicated Wednesday.

[photo] Tom Stautberg, of the Evendale Business Association Board, exits through a window from the side of the Evendale Fire Department's new safety house. At right is Evendale firefighter/paramedic Mike Hauck.
(Michael Snyder photo)
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        “It's hands-on learning, (so) when a dangerous situation comes, (kids) will know what to do,” Evendale firefighter/paramedic Mike Hauck said. “It's a very, very good teaching tool. To physically do something is easier to remember than being told about it.”

        In addition to the severe storm experience, visitors are taught about kitchen and fireplace safety, child-proofing a home, meeting in a predetermined location outside the home and calling 911.

        “We wanted it to be unique from the other ones around here,” Mr. Hauck said.

        Other fire departments that have safety houses include Franklin, West Chester Township and Blue Ash.

        A trip through Evendale's center typically takes 30 minutes, Mr. Hauck said.

        Because the Evendale department serves St. Rita School for the Deaf, the center includes smoke alarms for hearing-impaired people.

        These alarms, which shake vigorously when activated, can be placed under bedding at night. They also warn of smoke by throwing off piercing strobe lights.

        The center will regularly visit schools in Evendale and will be loaned to other departments that have Evendale children in their school districts.

        “If we can save one child, it's been time and money well spent,” Evendale Fire Chief John Vail said. “This house is fun as well as educational. We have always had a commitment to education.”

        Though primarily designed for students, the center also provides information for adults, Mr. Hauck said.

        “Now adults, too, can have exposure to fire safety training,” Mr. Hauck said. “We can take it to businesses and use it for home safety and break-room safety.”

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