Disneyland Resort in California has its own dedicated fire department, and no, I’m not talking about the vintage turn-of-the-twentieth-century engine housed beneath Walt’s apartment on Main Street, U.S.A. While that firehouse does indeed have a pole to slide down from the apartment, it is not a functional station. That Disneyland Fire Department exists to add authenticity to the nostalgic small town setting. The truck does, however, offer services to Guests. It relieves their tired feet with a ride across “town”!
It’s good to have emergency personnel on-site, because sometimes things do go awry. In June of 2009, during Fantasmic, exhaust from the Mark Twain caught fire when a show element ignited flames on the Rivers of America. According to officials, such a minor fire would normally extinguish itself and no damage resulted, but it was good to have firefighters there to assist and make sure the fire was contained. The Disneyland firefighters also regularly check potentially dangerous special effects and pyrotechnics performed at Disneyland Park and Disney’s California Adventures shows, and aside from providing urgent medical care when necessary, they are constantly on the lookout to prevent fire risks on property.
|Disneyland Resort hosts an annual 3 a.m. bash each February to honor the more than 1,300 employees, including the Disneyland Fire Department, who work the third shift. The department has to be on standby at the resort 24 hours a day. (Photo from OCRegister: left to right are BJ Jacquot, Dave Mahlstede, Justin Baker and William Sierra.)|
The Walt Disney Studios Fire Department, based in Burbank, launched in 1989 after the company realized its rapid growth meant they couldn’t depend solely upon local departments in the event of a catastrophe. It services the Company headquarters and studios. As assistant chief Don Clark was quoted in a Fortune Magazine article earlier this year, “We all know that should something really bad occur, we may be on our own.” It became vital to the safety of the Disney staff to have emergency personnel on the ready.
Some duties of the Studios’ department are unique to the entertainment business. Periodically they are called to assist with television or movie filming. They’ve built, exploded, and burned sets or props for episodes of “FlashForward” and “General Hospital,” as well as for the feature film Pirates of the Caribbean. Today, the Walt Disney Studios Fire Department has its own station, its own fire engine, and 15 firefighters (of which 12 are volunteer). I’ve read they have no mascot Dalmatian, though. That just doesn’t seem right! There should be at least 101 of those puppies around there somewhere!
As we all hope we never experience it, disaster can strike at any time, and we need to be prepared. Discuss fire safety with your children. Develop an emergency escape route for your home and do a practice drill. Draw a map of your home, showing each child an escape route from every room (bedroom, kitchen, bathroom, etc.) to the nearest exit. Ensure they understand that flames may block an escape route, so they need to remain calm and get to the next nearest one as quickly as possible. Also make sure they understand they need to get out of a burning building. If they can’t get to Mommy or Daddy, they need to get out quickly and meet at the designated safe place (see below).
What to discuss:
• NEVER play with fire; no matches, lighters, candles, stoves, fireworks, or anything flammable or combustible. ALWAYS allow a mature and responsible grownup to handle anything requiring the use of fire.
• Keep a fire extinguisher or two in a handy location in your home.
• Make sure your smoke alarm batteries are fresh; take time to replace them if you’re not sure.
• Make sure each child knows how to unlock their bedroom window and outside doors and safely escape.
• If you live in a two-story home, equip each bedroom with a fire escape ladder that attaches to the window ledge. Show the children how to work secure it and let them practice climbing down to the ground.
• If you live in a multi-level building, take time to show your children the nearest fire exits and escape stairwells.
• Plan a place for your family to meet outside the building (such as by the next door neighbor’s mailbox), so in the event of a fire or disaster, you will be able to account for each family member.
• Make sure your children understand they are NEVER to enter a burning building—not even to rescue their beloved pet!
• Smoke rises. Fire produces lots of smoke that can suffocate a human in a matter of minutes. Teach children to cover their noses and mouths with a cloth if possible and crawl under smoke to the nearest exit. Let them practice this exercise!
• Teach kids to stop, drop, and roll to extinguish flames on clothing.
• This is very important! When firefighters enter a burning building, they are dressed in special equipment that can look quite scary to young children. Please show your kids photos (like the one above) of a firefighter in full garb—better yet, schedule a visit to your local station—so they can see for themselves what a rescuer might look like.
• Remind them not to take anything with them! Their concern is to get to safety. Toys can be replaced.
SCHOOL SUBJECT: Fire Safety
SKILL LEVEL: All