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Fire Safety Training At The VT State 4-H Dairy Show

August 17, 2011

The State 4-H Dairy Show was held August 15 at the Addison County Fair and Field Days site in New Haven. The show consists of  Fitting and Showmanship classes based on the age of the participant and Conformation classes based on the breed and age of the animal with focus on the build of the calf, heifer or cow.   These teens and pre-teens (participants must have reached their eleventh birthday as of January 1 of this year but not reached their nineteenth birthday) have put in innumerable hours working with their show animals. It is from this show that thirty-five delegates and their animals were chosen to represent University of Vermont 4-H at Eastern States Exposition in Springfield Massachusetts in late September, to compete against 4-Hers from the other New England States.

The 4-Hers and their animals arrived at the fairgrounds on Sunday, August 14, in preparation for the Monday show. It’s a busy day, first step is checking animals in; making sure all paperwork is in order and the animals pass the veterinarian’s inspection. The participants settle their animals into the stalls; bedding, feeding and supplying water. There are show boxes to move in, tents to set up, friends to greet, not to forget that there are animals to wash, do a final clip on, practice showmanship with and provide continuous care for.

Wendy Sorrell, University of Vermont Extension’s 4-H State Livestock Educator, arranged for the 4-Hers to have an additional educational event on Sunday. Derek Shepardson of the VT Department of Public Safety, Division of Fire Safety, Louise Waterman, Education Coordinator of the Vermont Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets and myself, Outreach Specialist of VT AgrAbility Project, University of Vermont Extension worked with 69 4-Hers, in small groups throughout the day.

Derek led each group through fire basics, the types of fire extinguishers, their maintenance and proper use in putting out fires. I am a member of the Vermont Barn Fire Prevention Task Force; I went through a folder filled with a variety of materials that the Task Force has developed in both English and Spanish. Each participant was provided a folder to take home and go over with their families. The group then was given the opportunity to experience using a fire extinguisher correctly. There were both a “Hot Box” trailer from the VT Division of Fire Safety and a BullEx Training System from the VT Agency of Agriculture, Food and Markets for the 4-Hers to experience. These units provide fire from an LP gas source, but are able to mimic class A, B and C fires at various levels of difficulty. The units sense where the trainee is aiming and sweeping, adjusting the flame accordingly. The fire extinguishers used in the training are filled with water and compressed air and are easily refilled on-site to give numerous trainees the experience of using a fire extinguisher. None of the participants had used a fire extinguisher before the training; this hands-on training in a safe, controlled environment is an invaluable life experience.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. Wendy Sorrell permalink
    August 17, 2011 11:10 am

    In Vermont 56% of the structure fires during 2009 were in one and two family dwellings. Heating is the leading cause of fires, followed by cooking and open flame (USFA). The 4-H program provides opportunities for youth that promote positive life skill development and connects youth with their communities. This was a great way to educate the youth on fire safety and give them valuable hands-on experience. Thank you to Derek, Louise and Gail for all their hard work. Many of the youth I spoke with said that when they got to use the fire extinguisher that was way better than someone talking at them for two hours about fire safety.

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