Vacaville Fire Department participates in the City of Vacaville’s Kid Fest at Andrew’s Park every fall. There are several activities for children to participate in as well as fire engine and ambulance displays and an information booth for parents. The Department sets up an obstacle course for children that we call a “mini muster” which includes the EDITH (Exit Drills in the Home) Obstacle course, the Squirt, and a chance to put on child sized turnouts.
The EDITH Obstacle course simulates the thought process that a person would go through if they were asleep in bed and awoken by a smoke detector. Here is a description of the course:
The child lies on a cot as if sleeping in bed at night and is blindfolded to simulate the dark night or smoky conditions. A firefighter sounds the smoke detector. The child crawls on their hands and knees through a crawl tunnel to simulate crawling low in smoke and approaches a free-standing door. The child feels the door with the back of their hand. The door is hot, simulated by gloves that have been glued to the door with hand warmer packets placed inside. The child chooses to use the window as the second way out and crawls to a freestanding window. The child takes the blindfold off at this point and has to open two latches to get the window open. After climbing through the window, the child performs “stop, drop, and roll” on a piece of carpet. Then the child walks across a plank suspended over a kiddie pool. This simulates being careful as they are escaping. The child then runs through six tires simulating unknown obstacles and runs to the “meeting place” where there is a plywood cut out of a Dalmation dog at a fire hydrant. The child then role plays calling 9-1-1 with a firefighter who acts as a dispatcher making sure the child knows their name, address, telephone number, and what type of emergency it is.
The child also has the opportunity to do a couple of activities that firefighters do everyday. They have a chance to put on firefighting gear called “turnouts” and to squirt water from a fire hose. The reason we have them put on turnouts is to show them that a firefighter can go into a fire because of special equipment and to familiarize them with what a firefighter might look like if there was a fire in their home. Then the child has a chance to squirt water from a fire hose to tip over a cone. This activity is fun and gives them a feel for what it is like to handle a fire hose.
The EDITH Obstacle course is designed to teach important fire and life safety lessons through hands on learning and fun. By assisting the child through the entire course we can make sure that they understand the safety concepts that the course is designed to teach. The other activities are designed to familiarize the child with firefighters and to show them that firefighters are not scary. After completing all of the activities, the child is given a prize. Don’t forget to bring your camera; there will be plenty of Kodak moments! Keep watching the City of Vacaville website for dates and information about future KidFests.