Putnam holds fire safety open house

By Denise Coffey - Staff Writer
Putnam - posted Mon., Feb. 25, 2013
Captain Denise Bernier and Lt. Katie Webster give Elizabeth Mard a ride on a stretcher. Photos by D.Coffey.
Captain Denise Bernier and Lt. Katie Webster give Elizabeth Mard a ride on a stretcher. Photos by D.Coffey.

The Putnam fire station was overrun with children during the Feb. 23 open house on fire safety. Kids climbed escape ladders mounted on the inside wall of the station. They climbed into the driver's seat of a fire truck and into the back of an ambulance. They rode up and down on a battery-powered stretcher. Parents took pictures of their kids wearing fire helmets. There were doughnuts and coffee, raffles and free smoke detectors, and the atmosphere was generally festive.

Putnam Fire Marshal and Assistant Chief Norm Perron called the event very successful. “We're guessing about 200 people came through,” he said. Perron credited the firefighters for wanting to reach out to the general public after a horrific fire claimed the lives of two little girls. Personnel from the Putnam and East Putnam Fire Departments as well as Putnam EMS were on hand for the event.

Captain Jim Gardner said the fire was a wake-up call. He stood behind a table where hundreds of smoke detectors were lined up to be given away. He was finding out just how many people didn't have any in their homes. So Gardner gave a safety talk to each person he spoke with. “We suggest where to put the detectors,” he said. “You need two screws to put them in the ceiling. It twists on. It's so simple. And we tell people to change the batteries twice a year, when the clock moves ahead and when it moves back. It's easy to remember.”

He talked with people about making escape plans, determining focal points outside where the family can gather. “We want to know if everyone is out so we won't go looking for someone,” he said. “We do fire prevention at schools, and we want the kids to bring it home to their parents.”

For Captain Michael St. Martin, it was all about education. “People should have fire drills at home,” he said. “We have them at schools, but not at home.”

Businesses donated smoke detectors for the event. The police department gave away gun locks and DNA kits. Putnam’s director of economic and community development, Delpha Very, was on hand to speak about interest free loan assistance to low- to moderate-income property owners to make safety upgrades.

Perron said his department would like to make the open house an annual event. “They've done a fantastic job,” said Perron. “Everyone joined in.”

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