OREM — A handful of young children stood enraptured Wednesday as they watched the uniformed Orem fire officers use a special chain saw to cut through a sedan like it was cardboard.
The extrication demonstration was part of the second annual Fire/Rescue Open House at the Orem Fire Station No. 3 at 255 N. 1200 West.
There were informational booths, fire suppression demonstrations, chances to meet a police dog and spray the firetruck hose, plus free snacks.
"It's for the young kids, but it's also for the parents," said Orem Fire Chief Steve Gurney. "It's their fire department. We want them to know who we are (and to feel) that they have access to us for all their fire safety needs."
Parents pushed toddlers in strollers as older brothers and sisters wandered nearby, licking cotton candy off their fingers and watching three firefighters put out a "fire" on a propane tree.
But because it's propane, it can't be put out by water. Water from two hoses just formed a shield the firefighters used to push back the 4,000-degree heat and turn off the propane nozzle, an officer explained.
After that demonstration, families wandered to a "crash scene" where they saw an officer cut a door and trunk off a car.
"We try to explain what we will be doing and what to expect as a victim inside the car," said Fire Captain Russ Young, who is over Station 3. The noise is worse inside the car, so during an extraction, an officer will try to get in the car somehow to comfort the person inside, especially if it's a child.
Wednesday's open house was also effective because it taught kids to not be scared of the uniformed firefighters and police.
"It's good for my kids," said Adriana Whetten, who came with her 7- and 3 1/2-year-old daughters. "Sometimes they get scared to see firemen and policemen. (But it's good to) come to talk to them, see they're normal people who want to help us."
Nine-year-old Thomas Grebe said he liked the fire demonstration best.
He thought the open house was important because "if you get in a fire situation, you'll know how to get out of it."
As it gets colder, the Orem Fire Department reminds residents to use proper heating techniques. If space heaters are used, maintain a 3-foot radius around the unit. Also, be aware that items around a fireplace, over time, become more prone to catching fire.
A sofa 2 feet away from the fireplace may not catch on fire today or even tomorrow, but it's much more likely to catch on fire in two weeks or two months if it stays that close, said Bret Larsen, Orem fre prevention specialist and fire inspector.
Also, while not wanting to insult anyone, Larsen said that it's rare his crews respond to fires in clean, organized homes. Often flammable clutter on the floor or near a heater can cause or worsen a fire.