On Nov. 9, Franklin County Girl Scout Troop 200 visited the Apalachicola firehouse and police station to learn about safety and the folks who keep us all safe.
About 20 scouts, from Apalachicola, Eastpoint, Carrabelle and St. George Island, attended the meet and greet.
Fire Chief George Watkins told the scouts the new station is in a good spot because it is centrally located in the city and near a food store and the hospital.
“The old station on Water Street lasted about 30 years,” he said, “But after every hurricane it was an awful mess, full of mud and without electricity. That old station caused a lot of headaches.”
Watkins said the Apalachicola volunteer firefighters meet twice a month and respond, on the average, to 11 fires monthly. He said the firefighters all carry pagers to alert them to emergencies and tell them where to go, what to do and what kind of problem to expect.
“We are a small town group. We try to help each other out and have fellowship whenever we can,” he said.
Watkins said the station houses four fire trucks. The oldest was manufactured in 1988 and the newest truck is a 2000 model.
Ginger Creamer, a firefighter as well as a police officer, quizzed the girls about safety. “What number do you dial to get help?” she asked.
The girls answered “911” in unison.
“But we don’t play on 911,” Watkins reminded them.
Watkins told them the police are an important part of the fire fighting team. “The police usually get there before the volunteer fire department,” he said.
Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) Heather Hunter cautioned the scouts to always wear a seat belt and sit in the back seat until the age of 12.
Creamer discussed fire safety and reminded the scouts to crawl and roll to get out of a burning building and avoid inhaling smoke.
The girls then toured the truck barn and checked out various emergency vehicles. Watkins told them the new truck, Number 2, is the fastest and that it responds first on most calls. He said to save fuel the department only deploys the big truck, Number 1, when needed.
The girls got a taste of the siren on Number 1. “That is the sure enough sound of an old time fire truck,” said Watkins. “When you hear that sound, be sure to get out of the way.
EMTs Hunter and Travis Osburn explained the features of an ambulance to the scouts and asked for a volunteer to help with the demonstration.
Mahaley Shuler stepped forward and was given the full treatment. She was fitted with a neck brace and strapped to a backboard giggling while the fascinated girls observed.
Next, firefighter Keith Gibson donned firefighting safety gear, starting with suspendered trousers and finishing with a protective mask. He told the girls the firefighters are trained to don their gear in one minute and 34 seconds.
“He looks like a horse,” shouted one of the scouts.
Gibson said he couldn’t smile at the scouts because they couldn’t see his face. “Never be afraid of a fireman,” he told them.
He said the gear could make a firefighter seem strange but it was needed to protect him or her from the dangers of a blaze.
The girls posed for pictures with Gibson and the EMTs and then adjourned to the firefighters’ meeting room where Camille Williams, the most senior member of Troop 200, drew a ticket to choose the winner of a 12-gage Remington Express shotgun raffled to raise money to support the fire department. Jennifer Allen was the lucky winner.
The girls also toured the new police station with Officer Tim Davis on hand to answer questions.
Then it was back to the truck barn where the troop presented the fire department with a check for $100 raised through the sale of cookies.
Troop Leader Heather Friedman said the girls sold more than 5,000 boxes of cookies this year. She said they decided to add the fire department to the list of causes they support.
Watkins presented Friedman with a plaque thanking the scouts for their gift. The girls then sang “Make New Friends” for the rescue workers and received goodie bags, juice boxes and cupcakes prepared by Gibson.
For a gallery of Troop 200’s visit to the fire house, visit www.apalachtimes.com.
The Apalachicola VFD is seeking to furnish a kitchen at the station and is in need of appliances etc.