GREENFIELD — Greenfield Fire Marshal Brian Lott anticipates 1,500 to 2,500 people will walk through the 30,000 square feet dedicated to safety at the Hancock County Family Safety Day on Oct. 14.
The safety-themed event, which features free food, interactive activities, booths and demonstrations, aims to acquaint members of the public with local public safety officials while also giving them resources to protect their families.
Lott, who assumed the job as fire marshal last October, comes to the job with plenty of experience organizing a public safety day; he annually coordinated a similar event in his previous position at the Fishers Fire Department.
Lott learned that the Hancock Wellness Center and a number of other agencies had featured a comparable event in past years, and he worked with them to bring together more resources for a more comprehensive event than in previous years.
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“Instead of reinventing the wheel,” Lott said, “we went in together.”
Lott, who began working on the project about four months ago, formed a committee of six volunteers from the city fire department, the police department, the sheriff’s department and organizations like the Children’s Bureau and the Indiana Department of Child Services. He then enlisted sponsorship from Hancock Regional Hospital and Wal-Mart.
The planning committee started with the 10 to 15 businesses from last year’s event and more than doubled that number, Lott said.
Lott is impressed with the community’s response to a family safety day. Lott said he approached businesses with the idea of presenting a free safety event for the community with lots of giveaways, and business owners were generous in their response.
“Stillinger Family Funeral Home is giving away 360 bike helmets,” Lott cited as an example.
Terri Parke, director of Community Partners for Child Safety, served on the planning committee and is pleased with the collaborative effort.
Holding the event in the Wal-Mart parking lot will guarantee visibility and give her the best chance of spreading the word about Community Partners, which focuses on child abuse prevention programs.
“An event like this allows families to come and have fun with each other,” Parke said. “We want as many people to come as possible.”
Family Safety Day also features the mobile smokehouse for teaching children how to react in the event of a house fire. The smoke house consists of a bedroom, a kitchen and a living room. Firefighters lead children through the house, talking about fire safety and life-saving techniques; then, they simulate a smoke-filled house to test the kids’ ability to use what they’ve learned to escape, unharmed.
“It’s not scary,” Lott said. “There’s time to let them see what it’s going to be like before the smoke.”
Other activities include face-painting, a cookout with free hot dogs and chips donated by Wal-Mart and on-site Zumba classes. Booths also include a drive-through car seat check, the Indiana Blood Center bloodmobile, the Hancock County Public Library bookmobile and lots of raffle prizes along the way.
Attendees will get raffle tickets for visiting each of the vendors and exhibitors at the event, Lott explained. Then they can drop their tickets in different buckets for different prizes.
The Department of Natural Resources will be also on site with a custom-decorated jeep dedicated to ATV safety.
The DNR’s focus on ATV safety came after the 2004 death of 16-year-old Kenny McDaniel in an all-terrain vehicle accident in English, Indiana, officials said.
Kenny’s parents felt that knowledge of ATV safety would have made a difference in Kenny’s survival, said Conservation Officer Scott Johnson. They donated funds to create an ATV safety program.
“The vehicle is wrapped in graphics toward ATV safety,” said Johnson. “We drive it around and use it as a display and pass out information.”
The DNR booth will also have a resource protection dog. The DNR uses dogs to help locate poachers or individuals who have gotten lost while hiking or hunting, Johnson said.
Lott views the event as a way to get the fire department and other safety agencies involved with the community.
“We’re just making sure that the public has the resources it needs to stay safe,” Lott said.
In case of inclement weather, the Family Safety Day will take place indoors at the Hancock Wellness Center, 888 W. New Road.
Highlights of the day include:
11 a.m.: Festivities begin in the Wal-Mart parking lot, 1965 N. State St., Greenfield, with a flag-raising ceremony followed by a welcome from Mayor Chuck Fewell and other safety leaders in the community.
11:30 a.m.: The entertainment stage comes to life with MC Axe and the Fire Crew, a regionally known musical band of firemen who sing and rap their way through parody songs that promote fire safety, seat belt usage and gun safety. Lott helped to create the award-winning group in 1991. With production help from the local PBS television station, MC Axe and the Fire Crew won an Emmy in 1997 for their 30-minute fire safety video.
After the musical performance, the large center area — amid rescue vehicles vendors and the flag tower — becomes the focus with public safety demonstrations.
Noon: At noon, the Greenfield Police Department brings out the four-legged officers for a K-9 demonstration.
1 p.m.: First-responders will show a mock drunken-driving accident, pulling victims from the car and administering field sobriety tests to the suspect.
2 p.m.: The fire department will simulate a response to a hazardous materials report.
What: Hancock County Family Safety Day
Who: sponsored by the Hancock County Fire Department, Hancock Regional Hospital and Wal-mart
When: Saturday, Sept. 17, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (rain date is Sunday, noon to 4 p.m.)
Where: Greenfield Wal-Mart Parking Lot, 1965 N. State St.