Fire company to hold fire prevention/safety open house

The Sykesville-Freedom District fire company's Fire Prevention/Safety Open House will take place at the firehouse on Sykesville Road at noon Oct. 18. While it does not fall on the exact week, the open house is held in recognition of National Fire Prevention Week, which took place this year over the week of Oct. 4-10.

Since 1922, the week of Oct. 9 has been recognized as National Fire Prevention Week to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire which took place Oct. 8 through Oct. 10, 1871, according to Lt. Christine Flanagan, organizer of Sykesville's open house for the last 18 years. Fire prevention, she said, is not about just one week.


"Fire prevention is not just in October, it is all year long," Flanagan said. "The main thrust is in October but I teach it all year long."

The open house will feature information and activities throughout the day for all ages.

"We will have the trucks out to explore. We'll be burning a car," Flanagan said. "People can try on the gear. It will be a very hands-on event."

There will also be numerous groups attending to provide information and activities.

"I try to make sure we get a lot of organizations to teach about prevention and safety," Flanagan said. "We really try to hit all ages so there is something for everybody."

Some of the groups scheduled to attend include the American Red Cross, the Maryland State Police, the Carroll County Sheriff's Office, the Maryland Natural Resources Police, the Carroll County Health Department, the South Carroll Senior and Community Center, and the Carroll County Department of Aging.

The Gamber fire company will bring its dive team to the event.

"We will have our equipment out for people to view and talk people through it," Lt. Matthew Madairy, of the Gamber fire company, said. "We're kind of a hidden service that exists in Carroll County in Gamber that not a whole lot of people know about. We're the only underwater rescue team in the county."

The team will also talk about water safety, including advising people to take swimming lessons or practice swimming. They will also talk about their role in rescues, including the steps they take — Reach, Throw, Row, Go — before they swim to a victim.

"We do a lot of things," Madairy said.

The Freedom District Lions Club will be on hand for the first time at the open house to provide vision testing. This will also be the first time the club has done screenings at an event, according Ann Kramb, a Lions Club member.

"We're trying to expand the program and help more children," Kramb said of the decision to attend the open house. "Usually we just go to preschools."

While the Freedom District Lions Club supports many causes, fighting blindness through vision screenings is one of the club's biggest, with a primary focus on preschool youths. At the open house, free vision screenings will be available for children ages 5 and younger.

"If you catch the problem before the children enter the system, the better [it is for them]," Kramb said. "One out of 10 children have a [vision] problem. Children should not be slowed down by problems with their vision."


Children will also be able to go through Carroll County Volunteer Emergency Services Association's fire safety trailer, Flanagan said. The trailer offers a mock-up of a house, with a kitchen, bedroom and living room.

"Kids go through it and learn different hazards," Flanagan said.

The open house will offer free food, including hot dogs, chips and drinks.

"We want to give back to the public and teach the public what the different groups do to keep them safe," Flanagan said. "We really try to make sure to get the information out to the public."

Flanagan offers programs on fire safety and prevention throughout the year, though she is most busy during the months of October and November, she said. She takes the safety trailer to elementary schools for visits. She handles field trips to the station from elementary schools, day cares and nursery schools. Girl Scouts and Boy Scouts also attend her programs.

"I typically have 2,400 kids and adults between October and November," Flanagan said.

Smoke alarms are always part of fire prevention, Flanagan said. She talks about where to put smoke detectors and the importance of testing them.

Many of the local fire departments work together to teach fire prevention and safety, Flanagan said. Open houses are scheduled at different times to keep people informed throughout the year.

"We all do ours on different times," Flanagan said. "We all try to spread it out to try to get the message out. We're very proactive."

Gamber hosted its open house in April, according to Madairy. The Winfield fire company will hold its event in November, Flanagan said.

"She has a very nice one. She does a poster contest," Flanagan said of Winfield's open house organized by Debbie Gartrell, fire prevention and life safety chair at Winfield. "She's really great. We work together. Between us, we got this end of the county taken care of."

Flanagan said the number of people who attend the event fluctuates but the Sykesville-Freedom District fire company's event is "one of the biggest open houses in Carroll County."

"I've seen it go from 200 to 600 people to 200. We typically have 300 to 400 people at the open house," she said.

While there are no guarantees how many people will attend, Flanagan said, there will be plenty there to educate and entertain the community.

"We have a lot of neat stuff going on," she said.

If you go:

What: Sykesville-Freedom District fire company's Fire Prevention/Safety Open House

When: Noon to 3 p.m. Oct. 18

Where: Sykesville-Freedom District fire company, 6680 Sykesville Road, Sykesville

Cost: Free

For more information: Call 410-795-8021