Residents visit Evanston’s fire stations as part of fire prevention week


Brian Lee/Daily Senior Staffer

Capt. Paul Polep of Evanston Fire and Life Safety Services demonstrates a thermal imaging camera to local residents. The presentation was part of fire prevention week.

Anna Zambelli, Reporter

Residents were invited into Evanston’s fire stations Thursday evening for the National Fire Protection Association’s annual fire prevention week.

As a part of several events throughout the week, on-duty firemen at the city’s five stations showed attendees different types of trucks and equipment. They also explained how shifts work and what they do while at the firehouse.

“We wanted to see what life is like at the firehouse,” said Evanston resident Amanda Linder, who attended the event at Station 1 with her husband and three sons.  “You can get an inside glimpse besides just seeing the truck go by your house.”

Station 1, 1332 Emerson St., also held a fire prevention program Sunday. The event featured fire extinguisher training, a fire safety demonstration on a kitchen stove, games for kids and an appearance by Willie the Wildcat.

Evanston fire Capt. John Roche said the prevalence of fires across the country is lower than in the past because of less smoking and advancements in fire-resistant construction. Cooking is now the leading cause of home fires, according to the National Fire Protection Association.

“I feel we’ve kind of gotten complacent in the last decade or so because fires are down, but they still happen,” Roche said. “It’s a chance for us to get out in the community and reinforce that these things still happen and you still have to be aware of what you’re doing.”

Firefighters visited elementary school classrooms in Evanston/Skokie School District 65 throughout the week. Firefighter Steve Wojtowycz said they taught students concepts such as “stop, drop and roll,” “stay low and go,” and how to call 911.

“It’s important the kids know they can come to us, we’re friendly and if they ever need us, we’re here for them,” he said.

Linder’s son Lucas is a kindergarten student at Dewey Elementary School. She said the presentation in Lucas’ class prompted the family to choose a meeting spot in case of an emergency.

“The boys think of the firemen as heroes,” Linder said of her sons. “They’re kind of like their superheroes in a way.”

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