Piedmont Fire Expo to showcase training


First Posted: 1/10/2009

WINSTON-SALEM What child doesnt get excited seeing bright red fire engines, sirens screaming, whizzing down the street? Or hope to become a firefighter when he or she grows up? On Friday and Saturday at Joel Coliseum, youngsters and their families will get a chance to experience first-hand the exciting world of firefighting and rescue at the Piedmont Fire Expo, the annual fundraiser of the Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association.
The Piedmont Fire Expo, sponsored by Amerizon Wireless, Triad Fire and ReynoldsAmerican, is one of the largest shows in the Southeast at which vendors can showcase new equipment and fire and rescue personnel receive advanced and innovative training. Its also a day for community members to witness first hand the live action that they rarely get to see in person. During both days of the Expo, several training exercises will be presented, including a rollover simulator, school bus rescues and propane gas training.
The propane gas training is very visual, with lots of fire in a controlled environment, said Steve Ogburn, a volunteer firefighter at Mineral Springs Fire Department. Well also practice rescue techniques on a school bus and have a rollover simulator, as well as keep up-to-date on all the new hybrid vehicles that come on the market.
Hybrid vehicles, which run on a combination of electricity or gas, are becoming popular in the United States. But with all their benefits, they pose a risk to rescue workers in the event of an accident. With all the battery lines and high voltage, we have to know where to make the cuts in the car to get people out safely and quickly, Ogburn said. If we make a wrong cut, we could get electrocuted. You can see why we have to have constant training.
For the last 52 years, The Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association, with approximately 1,200 current firefighters as members, has supported member fire departments and rescue squads in local communities, offering year-round training and other valuable services at no cost.
That no-cost benefit is very important, since each firefighter has to maintain a certain amount of training each year, said Tim Lasley, Fire Chief at Vienna Fire Department, and association co-chair. Our association helps make it possible for volunteers to keep doing what they love to do, without having a financial burden paying for all the training.
In 2007, the Association provided more than 1,100 hours of instruction with almost 12,000 students, saving Forsyth County taxpayers about $60,000, just for that year. If it wasnt for the Piedmont Fire Expo, each department in Forsyth County would have to increase its fire taxes in order to maintain training.
Other events at the January Expo scheduled to be included are hands-on fire-extinguisher safety stations, a fire safety house that children can crawl through and learn very important safety tips, photo opportunities with Sparky the Dog, Air Care helicopter, kid giveaways and many more hands on activities for the entire family.
The Expo is open Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children 16 and under. Parking is also free. Sponsorships for the Expo are still available. For more details, visit www.piedmontfireexpo.org
Established in Forsyth County in 1956, the Forsyth County Fire and Rescue Association Inc. supports the countys emergency workers and citizens by providing training and related programs to member fire departments and rescue squads in local communities. The associations centerpiece event is the Piedmont Fire Expo, an annual fundraiser. Since its creation in 1975, the Expo has grown to become one of the Southeasts largest showcase of new equipment and for advanced and innovative training of fire and rescue personnel. The Expo also offers the community a chance to experience first hand, though live demonstrations and training, the inside world of fire and rescue workers.
The Association is a not-for-profit organization based at the Forsyth County Fire Department facility at Smith-Reynolds Airport in Winston-Salem.

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