Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­

OX­FORD >> The Union Fire Com­pany demon­stra­tion spon­sored by the Ox­ford Li­brary last week was sparsely at­tended, but it gave the fire­fight­ers and EMT a chance to de­scribe their re­sources in greater de­tail and an­swer some very grown-up ques­tions.

Fire­fighter Sean Mont­gomery took the lead in show­ing the adults and chil­dren around the large fire truck. When he opened the tool door, the vis­i­tors were sur­prised to see so much para­pher­na­lia avail­able to fight­ing fires.

That in­cluded the youngest ob­server, 19-month-old Finnegan Gass­ner of Ox­ford, who was lifted up by his grand-

mother Su­san Gass­ner to put his hands on the shiny con­nec­tion for the hose. He also grinned as he sat in the driver’s seat that was about five of his body lengths from the ground.

When grandma led him away to go home, he ap­par­ently re­sisted the de­par­ture and came back to see more of the ve­hi­cle that she said he loved since shortly af­ter he was born.

Af­ter that, the adults were free to ask ques­tions, and the fire staff obliged.

Mont­gomery showed the dif­fer­ent axes and saws they use to break out roofs to re­lease the smoke. He also showed a de­vice that no one at the demon­stra­tion knew ex­isted: It was a wedge of sorts to break out door han­dles and then turn the latch for en­try into a dwelling.

When he talked about break­ing out walls and ceil­ings to get to the flames, he was asked if fire of­ten lurks be­hind plaster walls and how it is de­tected.

He said the fire­fight­ers used to feel around with their hands, but now they have a de­vice like a cam­era-sen­sor that picks up heat and dis­plays it on a screen.

EMT Adam Wood demon­strated how stretch­ers can be moved in and out of am­bu­lances with­out too much trou­ble be­cause of spring and elec­tronic ar­range­ments to take the load off re­spon­ders’ mus­cles.

Fire­fighter Shane Kin­sey was asked why large mod­ern homes seem to go up in flames so fast. He said there are three rea­sons.

The first is that they are large and cav­ernous in many cases. “They’re a big fire­place for the fires,” he said.

The sec­ond is that the ma­te­ri­als that are used for mod­ern houses in­clude pe­tro­leum-based chem­i­cal, which burns eas­ily. The older homes, he said, used cot­ton, wool, wood and other nat­u­ral ma­te­ri­als, and they of­ten burn more slowly.

The third rea­son is that not that many houses are equipped with sprin­kler sys­tems be­cause they are not re­quired by law.

Erin Miller, the chil­dren’s li­brar­ian at the Ox­ford Li­brary, said she sched­uled the af­ter-school fire truck event so that chil­dren in the ele­men­tary grades could get to see the truck. She was not dis­ap­pointed by the low turnout, how­ever, be­cause she said through­out Fire Preven­tion Week mem­bers of the Union Fire Com­pany had been read­ing to chil­dren at story time, and the fire com­pany had vis­ited sev­eral preschools for demon­stra­tions as well.


Nine­teen-month-old Finnegan Gass­ner sits in the driver’s seat of a firetruck at the demon­stra­tion in Ox­ford on Thurs­day.


Fire­fighter Sean Mont­gomery shows off the tools the fire com­pany has at its dis­posal.


Finnegan Gass­ner, in his grand­mother Su­san Gass­ner’s arms, reaches for the hose hookup at the fire com­pany demon­stra­tion in Ox­ford last week.

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