Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

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February 8, 2006
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Grant to firefighters will pay for fire-prevention tools

Carson City's fire prevention program will receive $74,378 through a federal grant for fire prevention activities.

The department's wish list includes two big-ticket items: an emergency simulation trailer and an electronic robot that can be used to teach children about safety.

The trailer simulates fires and other emergencies. With realistic rooms inside, the trailer will have the ability to create smoke for staging fire situations.

A host of other gadgets will provide effects for earthquakes, storms and other scenarios, and the trailer will allow families to get a taste of what things might be like in an emergency and help them create plans for staying safe.

It costs $67,000.

"The focus of why to have this kind of tool is to better prepare our community on what they need to do to be safe," said Bruce VanCleemput, assistant fire chief and the city's fire marshal.

Firefighters got the chance to see the effectiveness of this type of equipment last year when they borrowed one from the East Fork Fire and Paramedic District. It was used at the Sheriff's Night Out in Mills Park last summer and proved to be "a big hit," said Duane Lemons, fire prevention inspector. "It was spectacular."

Pluggie the Fireplug, sold by Robotronics Inc., for a price of $5,500, is red and shaped like a fire hydrant. His voice and movements are firefighter controlled.

"Most kids are very shy," said Tom Tarulli, the department's education specialist. "The robot gets them over to the trailer with their parents. Then, we're on our way to offering the family the information."

The remainder of the money will be used for leaflets and other handouts related to safety.

Activities held across the city and in schools year-round provide the department with a wealth of locations for safety education.

They expect the new equipment will help the department expand its outreach to seniors, Spanish speakers and other groups they have had a difficult time reaching in the past, VanCleemput said.

Though the written materials and equipment displays get attention, the department expects the trailer and robot to be valuable training items.

While the safety information itself is important, the new tools will draw more crowds and be more valuable because people can interact with both the trailer and robot, he said.

The money comes from a U.S. Department of Homeland Security Grants and Training, in cooperation with the U.S. Fire Administration, under the Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

-- Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.

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The Nevada Appeal Updated Feb 8, 2006 11:38PM Published Feb 8, 2006 12:00AM Copyright 2006 The Nevada Appeal. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.