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Open house shakes up awareness

Victor Castaneda, a second year in the fire fighting academy at Mt. SAC, guides 3-year-old Asher Baker in spraying a hose at balloons at the Public Safety Open House Saturday. Baker is the son of Aaron Baker, assistant professor of psychology at the University of La Verne. The open house was held along D Street where police cruisers lined the streets open for anyone to sit in for a tour. / photo by Uyen Bui

Victor Castaneda, a second year in the fire fighting academy at Mt. SAC, guides 3-year-old Asher Baker in spraying a hose at balloons at the Public Safety Open House Saturday. Baker is the son of Aaron Baker, assistant professor of psychology at the University of La Verne. The open house was held along D Street where police cruisers lined the streets open for anyone to sit in for a tour. / photo by Uyen Bui

Kellie Galentine
Staff Writer

Members of the La Verne community gathered together on D Street Saturday as the local police and fire departments welcomed people to their stations for an open house.

The Public Safety Open House, hosted by the departments from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., revolved around creating awareness and preparing kids and parents for emergency situations.

“Our goal is to have just one child walk away knowing how to respond or get out of a home safely,” fire department battalion chief Mike Thompson said

With activities such as a timed obstacle course for kids to run from a pretend bed, under rows of balloons and out a miniature window, it was clear that children were getting an education, while having fun.

The “Shakey-Quakey” Schoolhouse was also running for kids to practice earthquake procedures.

“This helps everyone have a little more awareness and familiarity with safety measures,” Angie Shively, La Verne resident who attended the event, said.

The street was lined with police cars opened up for tours along with two K9 demonstrations as well as a tactical police vehicle available to climb in and a fingerprinting station was set up for kids to be fingerprinted for free.

“This seemed like a great way to have my son introduced to the police and start that positive relationship with this part of the community,” Elsa Kapps, La Verne resident who attended the event, said.

The fire department was also opened up, the station was filled with booths pertaining to several different safety organizations hoping to contribute to safety knowledge.

“With the theme of safety we have the red cross, the hospital and other organizations here as well,” Thompson said.

The fire department also hosted opportunities for people to spray a fire hose at balloons and practice aiming so that the water anchored them on the ground.

While the event was focused around safety, there were also several opportunities for children and adults alike to just have fun. A rock wall towered above the ground looking down towards a cupcake truck and hotdog and hamburger barbecue booth.

Firefighters and police officers roamed around mingling with community members and lit up as they shared so many of the details about their day to day lives.

“For my kids here volunteering, it is beneficial for them to see all that the fire and police departments do, but for my younger daughter, she is just having a ton of fun,” Tracey Haden, La Verne resident who attended the event, said.

Members of the University community were also present at the event serving as volunteers. Six members of Sigma Kappa Sorority volunteered painting children’s faces at a booth inside the fire station.

The open house created an opportunity for local law enforcement to be transparent with the community and teach both adults and children just how important safety is.

“What I would like for all of the fire department to get from this event that the community is not just people we work for but people just like them with families,” Thompson said.

The open house returned this year for the first time in three years and the police and fire departments hope to continue the event in years to come.

Kellie Galentine can be reached at kellie.galentine@laverne.edu.

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