According to the coordinator of the event, fire
inspector Tim Aper, this year the students in kindergarten through
fourth-grade were invited. He said because Zion Lutheran enjoys
smaller class sizes than many of the local schools, the department
and the school decided to bring in multiple grades this year.
The day began with pancakes and sausage with milk and orange juice.
Claude VanFossan was on hand once again this year to cook up the
pancakes, and firefighters prepared the sausages in the department
kitchen located on the second floor of the firehouse.
Department staff on hand to help with the morning of activities
included Chief Mark Miller, assistant Chief Steve Dahm, Inspector
Aper, firefighters Chris Perrine, Chad Kern, James Reed, and visitor
for the day Stepfanie Janisch.
Janisch was at the station for a ride-along day. She is a student
from Wisconsin, visiting Lincoln with a very close friend who is
from the area. She said that she plans to go into the medical field,
has her Emergency Medical Technitian certification, and was hoping
to go out on a few calls with the Lincoln rescue squad. Before the
morning over, she did get the opportunity to go out on one rescue
call to Friendship Manor.
According to Aper, the department goes out on seven to eight calls
per day, and 72 percent of them are medical related.
After enjoying their meal, the students then had an educational
session with Inspector Aper, who talked about what to do when a fire
occurs and how to handle finding stray matches or lighters. He also
spoke about the importance of smoke detectors. He quizzed the kids
and teachers with questions about what to do when a fire occurs, and
how often to check and change batteries in a smoke detector.
Prior to getting started, Chief Miller requested that the local
9-1-1 dispatch do a test call-out so the students would know what
that sounded like inside the station. When the test came through,
the dispatcher acknowledged the Zion Lutheran students and said she
hoped they enjoyed their day at the station. When the call-out
finished, Aper told the children that if this should happen in real
life while they are at the firehouse, they should be perfectly quiet
and stay exactly where they are in the room. He explained that, of
the firefighters in the building, some were on duty while others had
volunteered to help with the student’s field day. The ones on duty
would answer the call, and the volunteers would stay with the
When a few minutes later, the dispatch alarm sounded, every child
did exactly what was asked of them, and they received praise for
good behavior from Aper and firefighter Perrine.
When Aper finished discussing fire safety and prevention with the
kids, the group was divided into two parts. One part went upstairs
to the department offices and living spaces for a tour led by
firefighter Williams. The other group stayed downstairs where
firefighter Perrine gave them a demonstration of how he puts on his
In his presentation, Perrine talked to the children about not being
afraid or hiding from a firefighter when they are in a burning
building. He demonstrated how his voice sounded while wearing an
oxygen mask and talked about the noises his equipment makes when he
is fighting a fire.
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Upstairs, firefighter Williams talked about the age of the
firehouse and pointed out pictures of the early years of the
department. He shared the story of firefighter Bahn who died of
cancer, and a special helmet that was signed after the tragedy
of September 11.
In the main hall of the upstairs, kids
enjoyed looking at the walls of photos taken of fires the department
had put out over the years. They were shown the map of the city and
Williams explained some of the special markings on the map such as
The kids were shown the office areas, and the kitchen where the
firefighters prepare their meals while on duty. Finally, they went
into the sleeping area or dormitory. Among the more interesting
aspects of that room for the kids was the slide pole used by
firefighters to quickly descend from the second floor to the ground
floor of the building.
Williams explained that up until 1995 the pole was the best
alternative for getting to the ground floor. If the pole was not
used, then the firefighters had to run all the way to the front of
the building, which is the city hall area, go down the stairs, then
run all the way to the back of the building where the fire station
In 1995, there was a renovation of the station and City Hall. At
that time, the elevator was added at the front of the building, and
a back stairwell was added. The stairway was technically added for
safety reasons, to provide an additional means of escape from the
second floor during an emergency, but it also benefited the
Williams said, today some of the firefighters still use the pole
while others take the stairs.
Later in the morning, when the two groups of students were back
together, Williams and Chief Miller slid down the pole for them to
After all, this, the student’s went outside where Aper talked to
them about the fire trucks and the equipment that is stored on them.
Firefighter Perrine assisted each kid in handling a fire hose and
shooting water at the fake flames in the department squirt house.
The kids also had their picture taken in a firefighting scene.
Finally, firefighter Williams raised the ladder on engine 5102 so
the kids could watch. When he had the ladder extended, he climbed
about half-way up it and took a picture of the group below with a
Throughout the rest of the month, Lincoln Firefighters will visit
city schools and offer education on fire safety and prevention. With
the theme of this year’s fire prevention week being “Working smoke
alarms saves lives” the lessons at the schools will also emphasize
the importance of smoke alarms.