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Community action: fire safety trailer in Walnut Creek.


Fire safety trailer in Walnut Creek

Fire prevention in and around the house gets special emphasis this month with National Fire Prevention Week, October 4 through 10. "Play it safe, plan your escape' is this year's theme, and the simple message reminds us how important it is to have emergency escape routes in mind. Coupled with the exceptionally dry year that has plagued the West, awareness of fire should be at an all-time high.

To promote year-round fire safety consciousness in one northern California community, Soroptimist International of Walnut Creek and the Contra Costa Consolidated Fire District have helped fund a fire education and safety trailer. The mobile unit is set up at fairs, schools, special public gatherings, even at shopping centers within the fire district.

The Soroptimists donated $8,000 toward the purchase of the trailer. The Sprinkler Advisory Board and local Sprinkler Fitter Union 483 gave additional money and materials. Fire department personnel did electrical work, cabinet finishing, and installation of displays.

The trailer is presumably the first to house both a fire sprinkler display and fire prevention information. The display area draws crowds because the small room, which can be closed off from the rest of the trailer, puts on a brief "show' that is both terrifying and reassuring.

A fire is lit in a wastepaper can with a ceiling-hung section of drapery dangling above. In seconds, the fabric catches fire and sends flames to the trailer's ceiling. A sprinkler system with a "life-safety head' senses the heat and trips to extinguish the fire. From start to finish, the sequence averages about 17 seconds, but it drives home how fast fire can spread and the effectiveness of home sprinkler systems.

The value of these systems has been recognized and praised by more than fire fighters. Contra Costa County's Board of Supervisors has passed legislation mandating that new tract homes offer sprinkler systems as an option. Nationally, about 20 insurance companies give discounts (up to 20 percent) on homeowners' premiums for houses with such a system.

The rest of the trailer displays important fire safety concepts. "Stop, Drop, and Roll' shows what to do for burning clothing. EDITH (Exit Drills in the Home) ties in with the Fire Prevention Week program. "Is Your Number Up?' promotes having house numbers visible from the street. These and other displays and information are free to visitors. For more details call the Contra Costa Fire District at (415) 930-5500.

Photo: Burning curtain and poncho-clad observers await a dousing from overhead sprinkler system. Outside windows, spectators crowd around 8-foot-wide trailer for a close but dry view

Photo: Parked at an office complex, fire safety trailer attracts visitors on their lunch break
COPYRIGHT 1987 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1987 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Oct 1, 1987
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