Greenville gets fired up about MDA

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2003

It’s hard to get the members of the Greenville Fire Department &uot;fired up&uot; about much; they’ve seen it all.

But they get &uot;on fire&uot; for the Muscular Dystrophy Association each year during their annual &uot;Fill the Boot for MDA&uot; campaign, and the GFD did just that on Saturday, August 2, when they held their first annual Firefighters Expo to benefit MDA.

The expo was held in Confederate Memorial Park in downtown Greenville and featured demonstrations by local firefighters on several aspects of the GFD’s multi-task department.

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GFD Chief Mike Phillips said the expo had a two-fold purpose.

&uot;We not only want to raise money for MDA, but we also want to use the expo as a way to make the public aware of the many beneficial aspects of the Greenville Fire Department, beyond fighting fires,&uot; Phillips said. &uot;This is our first expo, but we plan for it to be an annual thing. We may not do it at the same time next year, though; we are trying to find the best time for it.&uot;

The expo began with a high-angle rescue demonstration, where firefighters simulated a victim’s rescue out of a water tower tank.

Using a ladder-equipped firetruck, firefighters Les Liller and Mickey Norman lowered themselves and a victim’s basket from the truck’s ladder, using repeling gear. They then &uot;treated&uot; and raised the &uot;victim,&uot; firefighter Jeff Burt, up to the truck to be retrieved by waiting firefighters, who, in real life, would transport him to a waiting ambulance, and be sent off to the hospital.

Liller told the assembled crowd that this type of rescue is not one that happens fast, as most firefighter scenarios happen.

&uot;With this kind of operation, you don’t want to get in a hurry,&uot; he said. &uot;Even though the victim is injured, you don’t want to have him or her injured further by having an improperly tied rope come loose, or have one of your firefighters hurt in a fall.&uot;

The firefighters also included the crowd in a fire extinguisher demonstration.

Firefighter Tony Johnson spoke about the different types of fire extinguishers and the importance of using the correct type on certain fires.

&uot;There are three basic types of fires,&uot; Johnson said. &uot;The ‘A’ type is a paper or wood fire, ‘B’ type is gas, tar and paint, and ‘C’ type is electrical. The most commonly used fire extinguisher is rated for all three of those. But you wouldn’t want to use a fire extinguisher rate for paper or wood, such as an extinguisher that uses water, on an electrical fire because the electrical current can loop back through the water into the extinguisher and shock you.&uot;

One important tip, Johnson said, is to make sure you always have an exit at your back when you attempt to extinguish a fire, in case the fire gets out of control, and you can’t put it out.

The downside of using a broad-range fire extinguisher that uses dry chemicals to put out the fire is that they are very messy, he said.

&uot;You will have a significant amount of clean up with one of those compared to, say, a carbon dioxide or halon extinguisher,&uot; he said. &uot;But any of them will do the job on your basic small fire.&uot;

Perhaps the most exciting demonstration was firefighters Jeff Burt and Dale Lawrence showing off their extrication techniques.

Using spreaders (also known as &uot;The Jaws of Life&uot;), cutters and rams, the extrication team pried doors and cut the roof off of a junk car, which was donated for the demonstration.

&uot;We don’t take the victim out of the car,&uot; Lawrence said. &uot;We take the car out from around the victim. The point is to move the victim as little as possible.&uot;

The expo also featured a CPR exhibit, free blood pressure check and face painting for kids.

Hot dogs, sausages and drinks were sold with all of the proceeds going to MDA.

The GFD guys also hit the streets in front of the park to collect donations, and had an MDA donation booth set up.

The booth was manned by volunteer firefighter Joe Stowers and his grandson Tanner Bozeman, who is a three-year &uot;Fill the Boot&uot; veteran.

&uot;My favorite part is ‘picking up the $20s,’&uot; Tanner said. &uot;My granddaddy walks up and asks them to help Jerry’s Kids, and I hand out the stickers.&uot;

Stowers said his grandson has been a big help in the fundraiser.

&uot;We were collecting at Winn Dixie earlier, and nearly all of the cashiers came out to give Tanner money,&uot; he said. &uot;One of them told us that nearly every lady in the store was asking for change so they could give him some also.&uot;

James Jacks brought daughter Whitney, 12, and son Joshua, 6, to the expo to see the firefighters in action.

&uot;We saw the announcement in ‘The Advocate,’ he said. &uot;Joshua loves fire trucks, so we decided to come out. I used to be a volunteer firefighter, so I enjoy seeing this also.&uot;

Joshua and Whitney took a walk through the Georgiana Fire Departments Fire Education Trailer, which uses &uot;fake smoke&uot; to simulate the smoke found in a house fire.

&uot;I didn’t realize it would be that hard to see in there,&uot; Whitney said. &uot;We have had programs at school that told us what to do, such as crawling and all, but I didn’t know it would be that hard to see.&uot;

Overall the day was a success, despite a small turnout by the public. The GFD reported they collected more than $800 in MDA donations during the expo.