Even before the official start of Peters Township Fire Department’s Sept. 28 open house, members of local families were on hand and ready to start participating in the festivities.

“This is our day to show the community we’re here for them and not just make it when they call for our help,” fire Chief Michael McLaughlin said. “We have our annual donation drive, and we make sure that a piece of that goes right back into this day, to give back to the community.”

The well-attended event featured various activities in which children could take part.

Firefighter Jack Chastel, for example, assisted youngsters with spraying a high-velocity hose at various targets. And his colleague Chris Barton, a firefighter and advanced emergency medical technician, showed how the Jaws of Life work by helping kids crush plastic bottles.

Those in attendance also were able to learn about the proper use of fire extinguishers, and they received further instruction inside the Peters-North Strabane fire safety house, sponsored by FASTSIGNS and the Peters Township Chamber of Commerce.

The open house was held in advance of National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 6-12, and the entirety of October as Fire Prevention Month.

“It’s our busy season right now. We will have at least one event per day through the next month and a half, through the middle of November: going to schools, going to daycares, meeting with seniors, meeting with lots of different township residents to promote fire prevention,” McLaughlin said. “With more than 19,000 residents in Peters in 19 square miles, we have a very minimal amount of fires, and we really attribute that to our proactive, progressive and aggressive fire prevention.”

Fire Prevention Week brings the Oct. 9 start of the Peters-North Strabane Citizens’ Fire Academy, with sessions running from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. through Nov. 13, alternating locations between the two departments. The program is returning for the first time since 2012.

“We saw a good bit of success with it, but we also found restrictions. One of the restrictions we had was that all of our students need turnout gear,” McLaughlin said, referencing firefighters’ personal protective equipment. “We just don’t have that much extra turnout gear, so we combined resources with North Strabane.”

The Peters Township department continues to offer safety checks throughout the year for children’s car seats. A community event in December will wrap up a National Child Passenger Safety Certification Training Program session.

“Nationally, the misuse rate for a car seat is 74 to 90%,” instructor Kristen Urso said during last year’s program. “That could be, it’s the wrong seat for the child. It’s installed incorrectly, or the child is in the seat incorrectly.”

The Peters Township Fire Department has 17 career staff members and more than 30 volunteers, most of whom were present to help with the open house.

For more information about the department, visit www.ptfd64.org.

Multimedia Reporter

Staff writer Harry Funk, a professional journalist for three-plus decades, has been on the staff of The Almanac since 2015. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and master of business administration, both from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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