Inflatable Fire Safety House Teaches Children about Safety in Port Hope

Inflatable Fire Safety House Teaches Children about Safety in Port Hope

By Chris Bihun, CFPO
Municipality of Port Hope Fire Department

In this day and age of computer games, hand held games and all round ‘techie’ gadgets, getting fire safety messages out to kids can be difficult. But it doesn’t have to be. As a way to get back to the basics of getting kids to have fun, to stay active and to learn all at the same time, the Municipality of Port Hope Fire Department bought an inflatable fire safety house that has fire safety messages and pictures printed on its interior walls.

The house is the newest piece of fire apparatus for the Municipality of Port Hope Fire Department, measuring 13 feet high with a built-in fire truck slide. It is the ultimate ‘kid pleaser’ and it works like this: As the children enter the house, a firefighter at the door reminds them that when they come out they must tell them a fire safety rule that they learned in the house if they want to go back in. After bouncing around in the house, the kids exit the house via the slide. When they want to go back in, the children are encouraged to talk to the firefighter at the door about fire safety. There are more than 15 different fire safety messages and accompanying pictures in the house that can help to educate children about fire safety.

Port Hope’s fire prevention department initiated the ‘Inflatable Fire Safety House’ project in 2012 with the help of the volunteer firefighters and a graduate student from Laurentian University. The student, Nicole Leach, was completing her Bachelor of Commerce degree and Certified General Accountants designation. Leach worked with Port Hope’s fire prevention department as part of her internship in the program. She was instrumental in creating the business plan for the house, managing all the funds and ensuring that the financial aspect of this project was completed with accuracy and accountability.

The aim was to replace their fire safety house trailer. This ambitious goal was achieved and the new fire safety house was introduced to the community at the annual Family Safety Day in the Summer of 2012. The entire project was funded by community sponsorships.

While the inflatable fire safety house has experienced a great deal of success, there have been some challenges along the way. There are very strict rules surrounding the use of the house, namely it is to be used as an educational tool, not an amusement ride.  It means that when the house is used at an event, it must be fully supervised by the fire department staff at all times.

The rules have not deterred the popularity of the house however. Since the inflatable fire safety house arrived in Port Hope, fire safety presentations have never been in such demand. Two other fire departments have requested and booked it for events in their communities for 2013. The size specifications of the house were specifically chosen so that it could fit into the auditoriums of local schools. It is the only one of its kind in Ontario.

For more information about the inflatable fire safety house, please call (905) 885-5323 or email.

Chris Bihun with a child

Chris Bihun, CFPO, with the Municipality of Port Hope Fire Department talks to a child about what she learned in the inflatable fire safety house.

‘Don’t cook alone or without asking an adult.’ and ‘Turn pot handles to the center of the stove.’ are two of the fire safety messages that children can learn in the inflatable fire safety house.