Berlin hosts signature Fire Prevention Night

The evening consisted of entertaining but educational fire safety events.

Wyatt Gutierrez, 4, of Berlin extinguishes flames at Fire Prevention Night.

Ladders were raised in the crisp air as children gathered in a single-file line, anticipating their approach to a platform of simulated flames.

They weren’t eager to reach the fire in hopes of staying warm on the chilly autumn evening, but rather were trying their hands at dousing the blaze.

The fire extinguishing tutorial was one of several activities encompassing Fire Prevention Safety Night at the Berlin Community Center on Wednesday evening. The signature event, which has taken place annually since the 70s, aims to shed light on fire safety awareness for local residents.

“It’s very educational but at the same time it’s fun” Mayor Jim Bilella said. “While kids are learning about fire prevention, they’re having fun. This is an event that the community looks forward to.”

Along with fire extinguishers, children used massive hoses, dressed in authentic fire gear and worked their way through smoke house mazes. They even had the opportunity to practice their “stop, drop and rolls” on mats inside the gym.

Although the exhilarating activities kept youngsters on their toes, a lesson was in each event.

“Public education about fire prevention brings more awareness,” Berlin Fire and Rescue Chief William Behnke said. “More importantly are the children that are learning about what we do — the stop, drop and roll mats and smoke house maze — those sort of things pay big dividends.”

One demonstration involved a simulated care fire. Fire trucks rolled up, fighters deployed from the truck and then put out the fire with hoses. They broke the windows, chopped off doors and removed the roof.

Both the township and borough work closely together when it comes to fire prevention.

“The two departments come together to basically work as one,” Behnke said. “That cooperation between the two departments just benefits the community.”

The evening was peppered with various personnel, including Cooper Hospital, Berlin Police, Berlin EMS and the State Forestry Service.

The crucial piece of advice spread throughout the night is a new fire prevention protocol regarding closing doors.

“When there’s a fire, shut the door. It keeps the smoke out,” firefighter Lindsey Pearales said. “Stay low, open a window to try and get out if you can.”

Berlin firefighters encourage resident to keep doors closed in their homes while sleeping. This prevents smoke from seeping inside, giving people more time in a safe place before firefighters arrive.

“We see too many times over the years where people will call us after they try to put it out,” West Berlin Fire and Rescue Chief Chief Joseph Jackson Jr. said. “So we try to educate them more and more.”