Downers Grove hosts 'Night at the Firehouse' to promote fire safety

To promote fire safety, the Downers Grove Fire Department took residents behind the scenes during its annual event, ‘Night at the Firehouse.’

The event – held during National Fire Prevention Week – drew hundreds of people to Fire Station 5 on Wednesday night.

"It’s a really fun event, we’ve come many, many times, and every time we get to see something new about our firefighters and our fire department. It’s a great, great place to live," said Jillian Mikrut, who lives in Downers Grove.

Families had the opportunity to tour an ambulance, sit in the driver's seat of a fire engine, and slide down the fire pole – among other hands-on activities.

"We want them to be familiar with the fire department, familiar with paramedics, just in case there is an emergency and just in case they need them one day," said Mikrut, who brought her daughters to Wednesday’s event.


A vehicle extrication demo showed how first responders come to the aid of crash victims.

Meanwhile, a burn demonstration helped explain why firefighters recommend the practice, ‘close before you doze’ – closing bedroom doors as part of your bedtime routine. With doors and windows closed, if a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, it won’t spread as quickly and will give residents more time to escape.

"Our effort is not only one day during Fire Prevention Week, this is a culmination of the messaging we do all year," said Chief Scott Spinazola, Downers Grove Fire Department.

Obstacles and games were also a fun way to teach children what to do in an emergency.

"Dean loves firetrucks, he loves ambulances, just thought it would be a good night to see everything up close," said Ren Robinson, who lives in Downers Grove.

Inside the ‘smoke house,’ children practiced their fire escape plan.

"They have you close your eyes and then you open them and it’s really smoky and then you go out the window," said Eliza Schad, who attended the event.

"I learned that it’s really important to be safe during a fire," said Ben Humphrey.

Spinazola said one of their main goals is to prepare, not only kids, but also adults for a fire.

"Having a plan when the smoke detector or the carbon monoxide detector goes off, that you have a plan in place, have a meeting place outside, it’s all about accountability and making sure everyone gets out safely," said Spinazola.

To mark the end of National Fire Prevention Week, a silent parade honoring civilians and firefighters who lost their lives in fires will be held on Friday, Oct. 14 at 7 p.m. It will start in Hinsdale and make its way through Downers Grove.

Residents can line up along Main Street with flashlights to participate.