“Stop, drop and roll,” chanted Annaliese and Amarissa Pearson and Garrett Miller in unison as they made their way around the fire trucks outside the Belvedere Fire Department on Saturday.
Deanna Pearson said her daughters Annaliese, 6, and Amarissa, 7, and nephew Garrett, 7, had been looking forward to the fire department’s open house since they heard about it in school during presentations for Fire Prevention Week. “We came last year and they loved it,” Pearson said.
A few minutes later, Amarissa and Garrett were seated inside a smoke-filled trailer that simulated a house on fire. That is a popular attraction at the annual open house, said fire chief Chad Hyler.
“We get the kids in there and teach them about the escape plan,” he said. “We actually have smoke that is safe for the kids to breathe. They can still see the same effects and everything but they can still breathe at the same time.”
The kids learn how dial 911 and because the trailer simulates a two-story house, how to crawl down the stairs to get out.
Outside, fire trucks were available for children to climb on and firefighters answered questions.
The event, which also commemorated the department’s 60th anniversary, included hot dogs and ice cream, and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office offered Ident-A-Kid kits.
“It’s just kind of a way to let the community come in and see us if they haven’t seen us any other time,” Hyler said.
Brittany Fussell said she was impressed by the event.
She said when she was a child she attended similar events, but they were never as big.
“This one is just outstanding,” she said.
During the smoke-house demonstration, Fussell’s son, 5-year-old Triston Maroney, poked his head out of the second-story window and happily waved at his mom.
“I think he’s enjoying it. He’s going to be the one dragged out of there, too,” she said with a laugh.