Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and sometimes hamburgers.
The Santa Barbara County Fire Department and Community Awareness and Emergency Response (CAER) co-sponsored a barbecue in Girsh Park on Saturday at noon as part of Fire Prevention Week. Every year the National Fire Protection Association, NFPA, organizes Fire Prevention Week to educate the public in fire and emergency safety.
In addition to the barbecue, where the fire department sold a five-dollar meal that included hamburgers, chips and soda, the event also included a fair, which consisted of booths promoting emergency preparedness. Organizations such as the American Red Cross, D.A.R.E., and The Gas Company were represented. The American Red Cross handed out free materials.
“We’re hoping to provide materials to inform the public, so they’re prepared in time of disaster or any time,” American Red Cross representative Julie Jeakle said.
CAER of Santa Barbara County is a coalition of the businesses in Goleta’s industrial corridor. If one company belonging to CAER were to encounter an unfortunate event, the others would lend resources to help, Cree Lighting Company’s facilities manager Tod Matz said.
Another CAER representative, Cree’s Environmental Health and Safety Manager Laura Sawicki, said the event’s purpose is to promote emergency preparedness.
“People don’t think [about emergency situations] until an actual emergency, and that is not the right time,” Sawicki said. “This gives them the opportunity to go to Costco or Kmart to get a first aid kit at a reasonable price.”
The Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES) had a booth demonstrating ham radios, which are used in disaster situations when other forms of communication are rendered inoperable. ARES, which operates out of Fire Station 17 on the UCSB campus, volunteers as a supplement to emergency response crews, member Bruce Gordon said.
During the fair, the group was able to talk to someone in Germany through the radio, but Gordon said the range of the equipment is completely dependent on current atmospheric conditions.
“We couldn’t’ get to Sacramento, but we could get halfway around the world,” Gordon said.
Gordon explained that ARES can slow scan TV pictures and transmit them by radio with a delay of approximately 30 seconds. Their van displayed pictures of a brush fire the group found as it was just starting. ARES sent the pictures to the fire department and the fire was extinguished before much damage was done.
NFPA has sponsored Fire Prevention Week since 1922 and chose “When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!” as this year’s theme.