UNION, NJ – Union firefighters brought Engine #2 and offered tips to adults with intellectual disabilities about staying safe in their homes and what to do in the event of a fire, at a CFS Self-Advocates meeting at the Center for Family Support.

Firefighter Christopher Davitt donned his firefighting gear during the event, and Captain Thomas Holder explained each article of clothing and fire safety apparatus.  Topics such as identifying exits before fire strikes and practicing leaving a building in the event of a fire were discussed.  Captain Holder explained that everyone should always be aware of their surroundings and take notice of other exits, in the event the normal exits are blocked.

“It’s important that when there is a fire that everyone cooperates, stays calm, and listens to instructions from the firemen,” said Captain Holder.  “Our visit here today allows these adults with intellectual disabilities to see the gear and equipment and dialogue with us, in a relaxed setting.  It is our hope that in the unfortunate event of a fire, that this training will keep them safe and will save lives and minimize injuries.”

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“This workshop gave our adults a chance to meet the firefighters while they are in uniform, to see the equipment in person, and to ask questions of the firefighting professionals,” said Donna Messina, CFS Director of Program Services.  “This will help in the event of a fire, by easing anxieties and our adults will have practiced and then be able to follow a plan that will ensure a safe evacuation.”

The National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA) recommends that everyone look for potential hazards in the home and correct them.  There should also be an escape plan, devised and known by everyone in the household.  Also recommended is a walk-through of the home that should include identification of all possible exits and escape routes. 

"At The Center for Family Support it is important for us to bridge the gaps between the individuals that we serve and first responders as well as other members of their community,” said CFS Behaviorist, Carrie Walker.  “Having a Self-Advocacy group is great because we help to educate individuals on knowing and understanding their rights and it gives them a platform to express their wants and needs to CFS and the community as a whole."