The city of North Myrtle Beach paid homage to history on Aug. 31 with its ceremonial “push-in” for its new wheels at Fire Station 1, on Second Avenue South.
The arrival of the $1.2 million, 2016 Pierce, 95-foot, mid-mount fire truck on an Arrow XT chassis – known as Truck 714 and the city’s new, primary tower ladder, or aerial, truck – was celebrated with a crew of people teaming up on muscle to push the vehicle into its bay. That marked a throwback to the 18th and 19th centuries, when volunteer fire companies used equine-drawn apparatus that could not be backed into their garages with horsepower, but only the force from firefighting personnel’s own arms and legs.
Next time on a trip to the North Charleston Coliseum and Performing Arts Center, stop at neighboring Tanger Outlets for an hour or two at the North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center. Walking inside, be ready for the glistening reflections from more than 20 restored firefighting vehicles and a wealth of artifacts. The site’s also a hotbed of awareness on fire prevention and the importance for everyone to take steps to increase safety.
An 1886 Silsby Stream Fire Engine built for the Detroit Fire Department could pump 750 gallons a minute. Beside the American LaFrance 700 Series “775-PJO” Pumper, which originally was shipped in 1956 to Coldwater, Mich., a descriptive sign notes the placement of the pump panels, whose operator at the time also was the driver, who sat on the same, right, side of the cab.
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History and tips rain across the galleries, full of such tidbits as:
▪ A fire brigade in Jamestown, Va., in the early 1600s that drafted rules to help prevent fires is considered a source of modern-day fire codes.
▪ Cincinnati had this country’s first fully paid professional department, in 1853.
▪ Three main water streams apply in dousing blazes – solid, fog, and broken, which is good for electrical fires.
▪ With a fire extinguisher, use the PASS system – Pull the pin, aim at base of flames, squeeze trigger, and sweep steam side to side.
▪ If your clothes catch on fire, do not run, for it fans the flames; drop to the ground and roll, and if in reach, grab a coat or blanket to further suppress oxygen to the fire.
Pick up a phone to hear a simulated emergency call and notice how, in the 4 minutes and 8 seconds before arrival on the scene, the responding agencies in transit during those precious moments maintain constant communications with one another, including police, with repeated updates of where each party is and on road conditions.
A parked, retired fire engine’s red flashing lights inside the gallery get plenty of repeated use with visitors, especially children, who open either door to sit inside and watch a video of heading to a major collision with perspective from a firefighter in the driver’s or passenger seat. The vehicle feels so wide across the road, and with the rumble of the diesel engine under the seats, the route to this emergency takes some skillful driving tact to navigate busy city roads and watch for crossing traffic at intersections – reminders of the vital need for all motorists to clear paths for oncoming emergency responders.
Rest on a bench for a 7.5-minute safety video that, with simulated smoke in demonstrations, covers a number of sobering realities, such as how 40 percent of home fires start in the kitchen, that uncleaned lint filters can start blazes easily in clothes dryers, and 92 percent of residences have smoke detectors, but one-third do not work because of dead or missing batteries.
Near the museum entrance, part of a wall demonstrates that since the 1800s, fire service organizations and departments have used a variety of styles of ribbons, medals and badges for self-identification. Twenty, two-sided panels of patches from fire companies are especially engaging for their global geography. Canada claims a chunk of the collection, with locales ranging from Vancouver to Montreal, and a fire company for the University of Guelph, in Ontario, just west of metropolitan Toronto. One patch, in Farsi, but also with an English inscription, came from “Iran Khodoro.”
In timecard station-like devices spread across the museum, try the 10-question “IQ Station Quiz Card,” with some engaging true-or-false questions about the information summarized in displays. One query to consider: “Most fires that occur in the home happen between midnight and 6 a.m.” View this as some homework for all ages, ahead of the National Fire Protection Association’s annual Fire Prevention Week (www.nfpa.org)– which, this year is Oct. 9-15.
For schools that arrange field trips, or parents who bring youngsters, a play area also includes a short fireman’s pole to slide down, just like the old days, when many firehouse dormitories were upstairs.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 843-444-1764.
If you go
North Charleston and American LaFrance Fire Museum and Educational Center
WHERE: 4975 Centre Pointe Drive N., North Charleston, in Tanger Outlets, across from corner with Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th store.
GET THERE FROM U.S. 17 IN MOUNT PLEASANT: Montague Avenue, off Exit 213 from Interstate 26; or International Boulevard, from Interstate 526 to one exit past I-26.
OPEN: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Mondays-Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays
HOW MUCH: $6 ages 13 and older, and free for ages 12 and younger with accompanying adult admission. Call for group tour details.
INFORMATION: 843-740-5550 or www.northcharlestonfiremuseum.org