WELLSVILLE - There wasn't any fire Saturday afternoon, but there was plenty of rain, which may have explained the low turnout at the Wellsville Fire Department and Volunteer Fire Department's open house at the village fire station on Main Street.
"With the weather today, it's kind of tough," said Wellsville VFD Captain Jason Smith, who organized the event along with volunteer firefighter Jason Mitchell.
Inside the station's truck bay, however, there were tables covered with free informational booklets regarding fire prevention measures, escape planning and what to do in case of a fire. Many of these were in the form of coloring books, stickers and other fun formats for children to learn the lessons of fire safety early. "A lot of it's for the kids," Smith said. "Fire prevention starts with them." There were also free hot dogs and refreshments for attendees.
Two-year-olds Max Smith and Jayla Osborne, both of Wellsville, aren't quite ready to take up the vocation of their fathers, Volunteer Fire Captain Jason Smith and VFD firefighter Brad Osborne, respectively, but they showed their spirit during an open house hosted by the Wellsville Fire Department and VFD on Saturday at the village fire station. (Photo by Richard Sberna)
Most importantly for Smith, there were 300 smoke detectors, purchased with funds through a grant from DPS Penn, that were being distributed to attendees free of charge. Bluntly explaining his mission, he said, "I at least want to get one per household in Wellsville and Yellow Creek Township." People who didn't make it on Saturday are welcome come by the station anytime to receive a free smoke detector. Those physically unable to install the device themselves can even arrange to have a firefighters come to their home and have it installed for them.
Smith said the other goal of the open house was to educate residents about their village fire departments, answering questions from the public. The fire trucks sitting outside the station would have been part of that effort, open for visitors to look at, though the unpleasant weather kept such requests to a minimum.
Still, the incessant rain and blustery conditions didn't dampen the camaraderie of the firefighters and family members who came out for the occasion, along with their fellow first-responders who dropped by. The guest list included personnel from the Wellsville Police Department, the state Highway Patrol, the sheriff's department, plus Lifeteam and Tri-County ambulance companies.
Decked out in her flight suit, Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter crew member Holly Hamilton apologized for leaving her star-attraction aircraft at the company's Columbiana County Airport base due to the weather. "We can't fly, the ceilings are too low," she said. Still, she passed out coloring books to the children in attendance and happily let them try on her flight helmet.
There was also at least one future firefighter in attendance.
Captain Smith's nine-year-old daughter, Sarah Smith, could be seen (and heard) clomping around the fire station in the boots, pants, suspenders and helmet of her father's turnout gear. Despite each of those items being many sizes too big for her, she appeared to throughly enjoy herself.
Sarah says that she's wanted to follow in her dad's large footsteps since she was four. She also has brought his fire helmet to school for show-and-tell. "And then we tell about what we want to [be when we] grow up, and I always write, 'firefighter,'" she said.