NORTH SALEM, N.Y. – The Croton Falls Fire Department’s (CFFD) annual Open House takes place on Saturday, Oct. 27, in concurrence with National Fire Prevention Month. The month of October was chosen to commemorate the Chicago Fire of 1871, which destroyed more than 17,000 buildings, killed about 300 people and left 100,000 homeless.
“Our main purpose in holding the Open House is to show people what we are and what we do,” said CFFD Vice-President, Angelo D’Agostino. “We try to educate people on fire prevention. We give demonstrations on how to use a fire extinguisher. We take kids for rides on the fire trucks.”
This year’s demonstrations will include a “live burn,” wherein a small building is set afire and the audience can witness the process as firefighters dowse the flames.
The Westchester County Police will be on hand with its Arson K-9, Daisy, and her handler, John Peters. In addition, the North Salem Police will be there to do child fingerprinting and to assist with car seat installations.
Over the summer, the CFFD acquired its first ladder truck, equipping firefighters to more easily reach the upper stories of large houses. Use of the truck requires 20 to 25 hours of special training, said D’Agostino. “So far we’ve trained five people but we haven’t had to use the truck because there’s been no structural fire of that extent.”
“There were a lot more fires when I started 23 years ago,” said D’Agostino. “The building codes have gotten much better and there’s less damage these days. Fires don’t spread as quickly. Houses have sprinkler systems and there’ve been a lot of advancements in the electrical codes and electrical wiring. Also, chimney flues are generally cleaner. People are more knowledgeable.”
Another goal of the CFFD Open House is to find recruits, said D’Agostino. “More than 75 percent of the people out there don’t realize we’re a totally volunteer fire department. They come from White Plains or New York, where you call 911 and it’s a paid department that shows up. So they carry that concept with them into the woods.
“When I tell people we’re looking for firefighters, they say, ‘But I already have a job.’ Then, when you explain it, they get interested.”
The CFFD Open House takes place at the North Salem Firehouse on Titicus Road, beginning at 11 a.m. on Oct. 27. Refreshments will be served.