Durham students deliver message about fire safety

Johnson Controls fire protection manager, Evan Bombino. Photo credit: Dennis Price

Durham College’s (DC) firefighting students are bringing awareness to fire prevention and safety.

Students in fire safety programs, including the Fire, Life and Safety Technician (FLST) and Pre-service Fire Education Technician (PFET) programs held demonstrations of fire safety equipment recently on campus.

It was all part of Fire Prevention Week on campus.

The week dates back to 1911 on the 40th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. The fire killed an estimated 300 people and destroyed over 17,000 buildings, a third of the city at the time.

It originally started as ‘Fire Prevention Day,’ but over the next decade, that day of awareness turned into a week of fire prevention in 1923 for Canada. It takes place in the same week that the great Chicago fire happened.

To kick off the week, the program hosted ‘Lunch and Learn,’ an orientation event for first-year firefighting students. It was sponsored by Johnson Controls, a company that produces fire suppression products for the public.

The event included presentations about fire prevention from four Johnson Controls employees. Three of which were Durham FLST and PFET graduates: Mark Pitropov, Alycia Olesky and Ryan Koehler.

The event was started by Johnson Controls fire protection manager, Evan Bombino, who has a connection to DC. His father, Stan, coached the Durham Lords men’s soccer team for 16 years and was inducted to the Durham College Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

Evan’s journey into fire protection started early in his life when Bombino and his dad were involved in a tragic event.

“When I was growing up, I had this event happen to me… I had a house fire,” Bombino explained during his presentation. “When the trucks pulled up and got my dad out, I was like, ‘I want to be a firefighter’.”

While Bombino’s goal was to be a firefighter, his eyes opened up to a better solution to fighting fires – preventing them. He found out quickly that it’s more important to educate people on how to prevent fires.

Fire Prevention Week at Durham was also about raising money for fire victims.

More than 80 DC firefighting students raised more than $2,500 throughout Fire Prevention Week, including a $1,000 donation from FLST’s industry partner, Harding Fire Protection System, who sponsored the week-long event.

All the money donated will be going towards Camp BUCKO (Burn Camps for Kids in Ontario).

Johnson Controls Fire detection customer care representative, Alycia Olesky, gave one fire safety tip anyone can look into at home. She says smoke alarms need to be tested every month.

“The batteries in your smoke alarm are to be changed once a year and you have to replace your smoke alarm every ten years,” Olesky says.

Having a smoke alarm ready is one way to prepare for a fire emergency. FLST professor and program coordinator, Randy Panesar, says preventing fire comes down to a straightforward approach.

“The number one defence to fire is education,” Panesar proclaims.