By: Diane Emeott Korzen Contributing Writer
A Saturday morning fire suppression demonstration enthralled about 200 kids and their parents at Boca Raton’s First Responder Expo, Feb. 2, outside Town Center Mall’s former Sears store.
The purpose of the demonstration was to educate and inform the public about the benefit of using sprinkler systems inside buildings, said local fire fighters.
Comparison, side-by-side demonstrations showed what happens to a building on fire without a sprinkler system. Another demonstration showed a sprinkler system quickly kicking in.
This dramatic display of fire can start from something so simple as a lit candle or cigarette.
Boca Raton fire fighters, with average response times of 4 to 6 minutes, beat the National average response time of 6 to 9 minutes, according to Loretta Bush of FFSA, the Florida office of the National Fire Sprinkler Association, NFSA.
Still, if you’re on the top floor of a condo, you have less than three minutes to get up and get out. With fire climbing up your curtain, and temperatures reaching 125 to 155 degrees, a fire sprinkling system would activate in one minute, she said.
As the fire went from barely visible and audible to flames crackling and bursting out of the model living room, sending billowing black clouds of smoke spiraling to the sky,
a digital timer on the wall kept track of how many minutes at each stage the fire had been active.
The audience got to see how the room appeared at different time intervals. Finally, at the 4-minute mark, Boca firefighters, standing by in head-to-tow gear, rushed in to douse the flames.
Bush asked families if they knew the minimum number of gallons it takes for the fire department to put out a fire with a hose. Answer: 150 to 250 gallons.
She also asked how many gallons per minute a fire hose puts out? Answer: 15 to 25 gallons per minute.
Another team of fire fighters demonstrated responding to a roadway call in which the “Jaws of Life” had to be used to extricate the driver from the car.
“All the tools weigh 35 pounds and the gear weighs an additional 45 pounds with an air pack too,” said one firefighter emphasizing the need to stay in shape.
”You now have a convertible!” a firefighter proclaimed, after several minutes of using special tools to sever and remove the metal roof of a car. A fire fighting squad stood by, ready to perform fire suppression, in case the car were to ignite.
Firefighters reported that 90 percent of patients are transported to Boca Regional hospital. Trauma patients are taken to Delray Medical, and pediatric patients to West Boca.
The first demonstration of the morning featured a Boca motorcycle officer maneuvering riding around fluorescent green cones set up in an obstacle course – to kids’ delight.
Also at the event were numerous different Public Safety personnel and vehicles; Ocean Rescue, in a boat, advertising a need for pool lifeguards; face painting and information booths; and free hot dogs, chips, and snow cones.
Putting ketchup on a hot dog, resident Madolyn Leto enthused about the event; adding, “My dad, uncle and brother have all served FDNY.”