Fire station 

As part of our "People who help" topic we took Button and our nephew to a Fire Station open day at Dartford Fire Station.

It was a beautiful day and parking was easier than we had envisaged. After a few weeks of being annoyingly bombarded, on Facebook, with reminders from the Fire Station account, it was no surprise to see a queue building up outside the station. Fortunately, we got there for the start so the queues were all much better for us than for those who arrived a bit later.

We started emphatically with a hose pipe exercise which really got both children excited. The Fire station had two large wooden house cut outs with fires at each window. With the assistance of a Fireman they used a real hose to knock down (put out ) all the fires. This was proving so popular that by the time it was our turn they had set up an additional hose, so both kids could have a go at the same time. Both Firemen seemed really good with the kids and our Nephew even got to wear a Fireman's hat.

From there we moved on to a rather odd football game. You had to kick the balls in the holes but the background was a house on fire setting. It was a good idea for the kids but was unmanned and so quickly became unruly as was a one or two person game and there were lots of kids of varying ages and ability.

We then started queuing for an excellent looking activity where the children got kitted out in a Fireman's kit and had to crawl through a vertical maze of cages. Unfortunately, our two (and quite a few others in the queue) were too young which should have been made clearer at the start of the queue. 

At this point the Fire Station ran the first of several demonstrations on chip pan fires. This was very informative and very effective with the message put across firmly but without condescension. They illustrated how even a very small amount of oil can first smoke (cue fire alarm if you have one and it is in good working order) and then launch dramatically into flames. They emphasised the importance of never leaving cooking oil unattended, the need for a fire alarm and the need to escape and call the Fire brigade in such a fire. Although not understanding the whole message, our two picked up on the heat and danger of fire and the need to call the Fire Brigade. In fact the following week my nephew saw a fire (a controlled burning) at the end of the road and rushed to tell his mum that there was fire and she needed to call a nee naw.

Next, there was a photo opportunity in and outside a fire engine. After a quick ice cream we moved inside where the children could try on a Fireman's jacket and did some colouring.

At the Red Cross table we were all shown how to do basic CPR. They even had a dummy to demonstrate. In fact the dummy needed CPR after our nephew decided to kick it. The man demonstrating was excellent in his delivery. He made it interesting and good humoured, managed the children rather than bossing them around and also dispelled some myths/out of date advice.

There was also a road safety table with lots of useful information but manned by a lady who was the complete opposite of the Red Cross man.

It was a thoroughly enjoyable and informative morning. If nothing else, Button came away understanding how helpful the fire service are and also having learnt that the number to ring is 999.

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