Orem's new Community Safety Learning Center is a great place to go to play with fire and learn not to burn at the same time.
The newly painted and jazzed up basement of Orem's 1-year-old fire station offers all kinds of opportunities for education and fun.Families, Scout troops, church groups and anyone interested in safety can check out the "safety wall" and find out when it's safe and not safe to open a hot door. They can tour the garage, the laundry room, the kitchen, bedroom and living room to find other hazards or visit with one of several Sparky dogs on hand to offer good advice.
Participants can learn how to drop and roll, how to survive in a room full of smoke and how to cut down on the probability of trouble even getting started.
Kids can climb into Cinderbritches the fire truck and blow the siren. Or maybe they'll just want to load up on safety coloring books and crayons.
It's all at the center, one of the first of its kind in Utah. It opened to the public today at Fire Station #3 on 1200 West in Orem.
The price of admission is a can of food for the homeless.
"We hope this is going to touch a lot of lives, not just children's lives," said Dave Eckersley, public information officer for the Orem Fire Department and the driving force behind the creation of the center. "We're excited."
Eventually the whole basement area of the new station will be dedicated to public use - space that probably would have just been used as a storage area, he said. The north side will include an assembly room and restrooms. The learning center will be expanded.
"This will be something not just for the fire department but for the community," he said, noting that all of the center is being paid for out of private and business donations.
In addition, Boy Scouts looking for Eagle service projects are encouraged to see what the center needs.
Aaron McKnight, 13, has already done that.
He organized the building of the center's safety wall, which features a window and a door offering the two ways out when the smoke detector alarm sings.
He and his friends put in 180 hours putting up the wall, which serves as a teaching station in the center.
But the wall is just part of what there is to see.
"Orem's been somewhat of a leader here," said deputy state fire marshall Dave Powers. "Most of these kind of endeavors start at a grass-roots level. This will provide training in injury prevention and this information will make a difference.
"I guarantee you that at least one life will be saved because of this."
Fire Chief Lynn Rowley said the center will give Orem the ability to offer expanded safety education in areas beyond fire safety, including bicycle safety and car seat use.
Tours can be arranged by calling Eckersley at 229-7021. Hours will be maintained to accommodate interest.