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Open house offers activities for all ages

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By Teresa Herriman

The Courier-Herald

If it's fall, it's time for the annual East Pierce Fire and Rescue Open House.

Now in its 11th year, the open house provides an opportunity for citizens to learn more about the programs and services offered by their local fire department. Interactive demonstrations, simulators and tours will be offered from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

Lt. Eric McLeroy, a firefighter at East Pierce and the primary organizer of the event, said he expects between 3,000 to 5,000 people to attend.

One of the most popular activities is the Junior Firefighters Challenge, a competition that gives kids a chance to try their hand at being firefighters. Children 8 and younger suit up in pint-size firefighter gear to compete with each other on an obstacle course. The kids ride a tricycle through a course, then try to squirt water through a hose into a two-story house the firefighters built as a prop. Dry ice inside simulates smoke. Competitors then climb a ladder and rescue a doll from the house. Older children compete on a more challenging course. They wear real gear, run (instead of ride tricycles) and use a larger hose to put out the "fire."

McLeroy said firefighters will demonstrate some of the equipment they use in various rescue situations. Four cars will be cut apart in an exhibition of the Jaws of Life device. Water rescue divers will demonstrate their skills in a special tank at the station.

East Pierce emergency crews will be joined a Huey medivac helicopter, like the ones used to rescue climbers on Mount Rainier. It will land on the property at the start of the open house and the public is invited to step inside the chopper and talk to the four-member crew.

A bomb squad from McChord Air Force Base will demonstrate the use of robots and video cameras to dispose of explosives.

The Good Samaritan Mobile Health Unit will provide free blood pressure checks and the Ear, Nose Throat and Plastic Surgery Associates are offering flu shots for $15.

The Bonney Lake Kiwanis Club will be selling hot dogs and sodas. Free ice cream will be provided by Cold Stone Creamery.

Teresa Herriman can be reached at therriman@courierherald.com.

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