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Hinderman: Kids learn much about safety at OFPD camp

Obstacle course winners Jake JennKucik pose for phoOrlFire ProtectiDistrict's Kids Fire Life Safety Camp. | LaurHinderman for Sun-Times Media

Obstacle course winners Jake and Jenna Kucik pose for a photo at the Orland Fire Protection District's Kids Fire and Life Safety Camp. | Laura Hinderman for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: September 5, 2013 6:14AM



Are the Orland Fire Protection District cadets looking awfully young this year? No, it’s the annual Kids Fire and Life Safety Camp, hosted by the district. Mike Ercoli, the district’s fire prevention supervisor, and fire inspector Pat Collier shared information about this year’s four-day camp, which ran from July 15-18.

Fifty children, ages 8 to 11, took part in the camp — assembling enthusiastically into groups, donning bright red T-shirts, and engaging in warm-up exercises and “get to know you” games on the first day, before being paraded to the grounds near the practice fire house to see a real live firefighters drill.

A firefighter in full gear demonstrated the function of each piece of firefighting equipment for the children. Suddenly, a mock fire call came over the loudspeaker about a three-unit building being on fire and a child missing. Within seconds, a fire truck, ladder truck, and ambulance came rolling into the area near the practice house.

As the firefighters conducted the drill, Ercoli explained what each member was doing and how each fire vehicle was used to combat the fire. The vehicle that arrived on the scene first hooked up the hoses to the hydrants and checked the area; the ladder truck set down outriggers and extended the ladder to the top floors, where the firefighters would begin battling the blaze and searching for the child. The ambulance was on scene to provide medical care, if needed.

Besides being taught about fire safety and prevention and first aid, during the subsequent days of the camp the children learned about bicycle safety, with demonstrations by Ryan Wayne and Jim Sapplis of Orland Park Cyclery and Dave Lux from Performance Bikes in Orland Park.

They also were informed about electrical safety, with fire district staffers explaining about the dangers of fallen wires and how they should never touch one, and about what to do under different weather circumstances to stay safe.

Stranger Danger and Internet safety was presented by Orland Hills police officer Jennifer Leddin, while Edgar Tums, a senior diver with the OFPD, demonstrated pool and water safety in a pool donated by American Sales in Orland Park.

On their last day of camp, the children reinforced their learning by performing physical and mental challenges. In one event, they competed in teams, with each trying to put out four mock fires with collapsible “flames” mounted to a board that resembled four windows in a home.

In another area, the youngsters competed by gender in going through an obstacle course. They traveled through a long tube, zigzagged through a series of orange cones, carried a fire extinguisher to a distant point, jumped over a platform, dragged a fire hose to 50 feet and finally carried a 28-pound “baby rescue doll” to safety.

Jenna Kucik won with a time of 32 seconds, and seconds later her brother, Jake Kucik, won for the boys, with a time of 29 seconds. Jenna said carrying the “baby” was the most difficult portion of the course.

A third group of campers took part in a game show in a portable studio provided by Dan Micek and his team from Wheel of Wisdom Game Shows. Micek was given questions on topics that the campers had learned during the week, and the contestants were so eager to answer the questions that “restrained buzzer training” was necessary. The children thoroughly enjoyed the game show.

In the camp’s closing ceremony, the students received certificates for finishing their training and a DVD of photos of their adventures during the camp.

Congratulations to the 2013 Kids Fire and Life Safety Camp participants. Use your training wisely!



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