By MICHAEL P. WALSH
Public Relations Information Coordinator
The city joined West Haven’s three fire departments to mark the 100th anniversary of Fire Prevention Week at an exposition of all things fire, police, public safety and health in Old Grove Park on Saturday.
The second annual West Haven Fire/Police Service, Public Safety & Health Expo brought together families and first responders — firefighters, police officers, EMTs, health care professionals — from around the state for hands-on activities and interactive demonstrations to promote public safety education.
The large public exhibition was organized by West Haven Fire Department Chief James P. O’Brien, West Shore Fire Department Chief Stephen Scafariello, City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown Chief Michael R. Terenzio and Expo Committee Chairwoman Beth A. Sabo, the city’s commissioner of human resources.
West Haven’s storied fire service includes the independent West Haven Fire Department, which serves the First Fire Taxation, or Center, District, and the independent West Shore Fire Department, which serves the Shore’s 2nd District. It also includes the 3rd District’s formerly independent Allingtown Fire Department, which was taken over by the city in July 2012 and is now known as the City of West Haven Fire Department Allingtown.
Collectively, the departments have been in operation for 353 years — West Haven since 1888, Allingtown since 1907 and West Shore since 1918.
The free exposition featured an array of fire engine and firetruck displays, including antique fire apparatus, along with a fire service exhibit. The colorful fleet was spread along the adjacent Palace Street and on the grounds of the 152-year-old Grove.
The five-hour expo included a hazmat trailer, rides in West Haven’s 1935 Mack pump firetruck, fire merchandise vendors and the Franco’s Fried Dough-Licious food truck, as well as the departments’ rescue boats, including West Shore’s amphibious marine unit.
It also included educational demonstrations on smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, drone technology, home fire sprinklers, first aid, and fire code and investigation.
Sparky the Fire Dog interacted with children, and musical group Tre Paul, fronted by retired city police Detective Sgt. Paul Raucci on vocals, performed an entertaining set of rock, oldies and singalongs.
West Haven firefighters, led by Fire Marshal Roger Sicotte, demonstrated the departments’ 35-foot smoke trailer and showed children what to do in a fire.
West Shore Fire Marshal Keith T. Flood demonstrated a home fire sprinkler during a live burn. The side-by-side burn consisted of two 8-by-8-foot cells, one with a sprinkler and one without. The burn showed the fire’s destruction on a structure without a sprinkler, compared with minimal damage to a structure with a sprinkler. The demonstration was sponsored by the Connecticut Fire Sprinkler Association to show the importance of home sprinklers, which can save lives and reduce property damage, Flood said.
Members of West Haven Professional Firefighters Local 1198 collected donations for the union’s annual Muscular Dystrophy Association charity event.
As part of Allingtown’s successful Child Safety Car Seat Installation and Inspection Program, Capt. Jason Cameron and firefighter Vincent Del Vecchio installed car seats for people. They also inspected those already installed to ensure that the portable seats were properly fastened for securing small children.
Fire apparatus dealers and members of the University of New Haven’s Fire Science Club presented information on products and programs. Members of the UNH club also showed children and adults how to use a fire extinguisher.
Retired West Haven fire Lt. William Heffernan III, the chairman of the West Haven Fire Department Historical Library, and his son, library volunteer William Heffernan IV, sold merchandise celebrating the department’s 125th anniversary, including books, coins, mugs, placemats, T-shirts, pewter Christmas ornaments, and pin and patch sets.
Jennifer A. Amendola, the director of the 911 Communications Center at West Haven police headquarters, educated people on the city’s Emergency Reporting System by showing illustrations of the ERS structure and images of a 911 workstation.
Amendola and ERS dispatchers played back a real 911 call for people to hear and showed them how to “TEXT 911” if they could not call in an emergency.
Dispatcher John Morris showed city residents how to call 911 during an exercise in which Morris called the 911 center so the residents could talk with the call-taker and listen to questions.
Police K-9 Officer Thomas Marchitto and his police dog, Ado, put on a demonstration, and officers gave out informational materials on public safety, crime prevention and law enforcement programs, along with coloring books, mugs, T-shirts and pens.
Members of the city Health Department displayed information on the coronavirus, food sanitation, the flu and monkeypox and passed out candy, coloring books, and bottles of water and hand sanitizer.
Members of Griffin Health’s mobile vaccination team administered Moderna’s and Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccines to all age groups, including first and second doses and boosters.
Local health care agencies, including Bridges, presented their programs.
Emergency Management Director Joseph Soto presented information on the city’s Community Emergency Response Team, storm preparation, post-storm recovery, and natural and human-made disasters.
Soto said the CERT program, which needs volunteers, educates volunteers on disaster preparedness for hazards that could impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization and disaster medical operations.
Soto also signed up residents for the city’s emergency notification system to receive alerts. Sign up at https://member.everbridge.net/1332612387831850/new.
The Citizen Notification System enables the city to quickly provide residents with critical information in various situations, such as severe weather, unexpected road closures, missing persons, and building or neighborhood evacuations, Soto said.
The system is operated in partnership with Everbridge Inc. of Burlington, Massachusetts, the world leader in incident notification systems.
Once registered in Everbridge’s secure database, the site will send subscribers time-sensitive messages via cell, home or business phones or email or text messages. The notifications are broadcast through West Haven’s Emergency Operations Center.