Durham College firefighting students have once again taken off their boots to raise money and awareness for fire safety.
This fall, they collected donations in the annual boot drive to raise money for Camp BUCKO (Burn Camp for Kids in Ontario), a program that supports burn victims as part of National Fire Prevention Week.
Brendan Needham, a firefighting student, says raising money for children in need is the best part of the week.
“We’re going around asking people to drop money in this boot – it’s a little weird and smelly – but some of these burn victims feel left out, they can be on their own,” Needham says. “We raise money and help give them a chance to go to a camp and feel like they belong.”
Students ran a bake sale, trivia games, and a meet and greet with Oshawa’s fire department. Sparky the Dog, Oshawa Fire’s mascot, wandered around campus greeting students while dancing and taking photos.
More active events included the “Activate the Fire Alarm Challenge,” where students were allowed to pull a display fire alarm and see the inner-workings of the fire alarm system.
The last event was a race between firefighting students in the bus loop, where firefighting students raced against one another to put on their firefighting gear and carry an 80-pound dummy across the lawn.
Fire prevention inspector Paul Hunt from Oshawa Fire Services was on campus, and spoke with students in the hallways. He spent the day discussing safety measures for evacuating a fire and how to properly test fire alarms and smoke detectors.
Hunt says it’s important that students who are on their own know how to take appropriate safety measures.
“This is the first time a lot of these kids [on campus] are on their own, mom and dad aren’t around anymore,” Hunt says. “They need to be aware of what kind of system is in their building, on or off campus, so hopefully if they have the right questions today. They can ask any of us here and be prepared.
His biggest piece of advice is to never disconnect a smoke alarm, under any circumstances.
“Whether the battery’s chirping because it’s dying, or if you accidentally burn dinner and it goes off, never disconnect the smoke alarm because they’re life saving devices, and they can buy you precious minutes to get out of a fire safely,” he says.
For more information of National Fire Prevention Week and safety tips, visit the Oshawa Fire Service’s website.