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Firefighting has come a long way since Ben Franklin

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Sunnyside firefighter Sean Glasser straps on the helmet worn to protect him from falling debris and other objects, at last night's demonstration at the Sunnyside Library.
   Jennie McGhan/Daily Sun News
   Reading Clifford the Firehouse Dog to youngsters at the Sunnyside Library is Sunnyside Firefighter Sean Glasser. The book provides fire safety tips.

"The reason I am here is partly due to Ben Franklin...he was a member of one of the first fire departments," Sunnyside Firefighter and Paramedic Sean Glasser told those gathered last night at the Sunnyside Library.

He provided a presentation on fire safety and explained the purpose of a firefighter's turnouts.

The presentation was part of the traveling Benjamin Franklin exhibit that is currently touring the nation.

Speaking to primarily young children, Glasser asked when someone should call 9-1-1.

The youngsters pondered their answers, listing 9-1-1 emergencies such as a fire, an individual who is severely ill and an incident when an individual "has been shot."

Glasser was pleased with the answers and explained different agencies respond to emergencies. In the case of a shooting victim, he told the youngsters both the police and paramedics would respond to a scene.

He reminded the youngsters of the information a 9-1-1 operator needs to properly dispatch emergency personnel, including the caller's name and location.

Young Christopher Acosta chimed in, stating, "...and what kind of emergency."

Again, Glasser noted his pleasure at the knowledge of his young audience, stating, "Good...because if the operator doesn't know what the emergency is, they could send the police instead of a fire truck."

The youngsters were held in rapt attention as Glasser addressed other safety issues, such as the "stop, drop and roll" rule and playing with matches and lighters.

He shared the dangers, using an example from approximately one year ago to drive home his message.

"There was a young boy who accidentally started a fire while playing with a lighter and he wasn't hurt, but his little brother was," said Glasser.

Smoke detectors, too, Glasser said, are an important tool for fire safety.

He also reminded the youngsters that when caught inside a building during a fire to close a door and place a towel or loose clothing at the bottom if smoke is notable outside a room.

"I bet you have dirty clothes on your floor that could be used," he told the children.

Glasser added, "If there is a window you can climb out of, you can use that as a way to get away from the fire."

He proceeded to show the youngsters the gear worn by firefighters, explaining the heavy equipment and breathing apparatus results in the firefighters making lots of noise.

Glasser said anyone trapped in a building where there is fire should be loud when attempting to gain the attention of firefighters because of the noisy gear.

The boots, he said are steel toed and have steel strips in the bottoms to prevent injury to the feet.

"You could step on my toes and it wouldn't hurt me," explained Glasser, stating the turnout pants and coat are specially made to provide protection from heat and flames.

The gauge to his airtank also serves more than one purpose. Glasser told the youngsters it tells him how much air is in the tank.

"This tells me how large my protective bubble is," he stated, explaining without air firefighters are not protected from smoke.

The gauge also sounds an alarm when a firefighter is idle too long. To demonstrate the sound, Glasser sat in one position for longer than 15 seconds.

"The sound is not really loud at first and if I move it stops, but if I am injured and unable to move it will get louder and louder," he shared.

Being curious, the youngsters wanted to know how heavy the airtank was and Glasser allowed one youngster an attempt to pick it up.

"That's heavy!" Acosta proclaimed for the rest of those gathered.

Following the demonstration, Glasser reviewed the fire safety rules, reading Clifford the Firehouse Dog.

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