Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Reedy Creek Fire Department

Okay, here's another major perk of moving to Florida.  We got to attend a tour of the Reedy Creek Fire Department, set up through our homeschool group.  For those of you not in the know, Reedy Creek is the immediate governing jurisdiction for the Walt Disney World Resort.  Basically, Disney wanted to have its own system for building codes and whatnot, so it created the Reedy Creek Improvement District.

Now that that's settled.. on with the tour!

We went to Fire Station One, also known as the Dalmation Station.  The lobby was pretty cool with cutaways of fire hydrants and other.. technical.. things.

It was pretty cool seeing the inside of a fire hydrant.

Before the actual tour started, one of the fire department's safety inspectors told us all about the rules - that the fire station is like their house and to respect their house by not running, jumping, climbing on things, etc, just like if you were visiting someone's house.  She also told the kids that should they hear a call come in, they'll hear the tone and announcement, and that they should not run amok, but stand very still near their parents.

She had dispatch sound the tones and give us a welcome message, it was pretty cool.

Then we went to the fire station's living room and watched a video with Timon and Pumbaa about fire safety, then the firefighter gave us a long demonstration and Q&A session.  The demonstration of the firefighter's gear was standard if you've ever done a fire station tour (we've done several back in Massachusetts).  The kids thought the PASS alarm was really loud, but a lot of the little ones thought it was very funny how the firefighter had to keep dancing around to keep it from going off.

We also got to see where the firefighters sleep during the night portion of their 24 hour shift.  It's not a traditional bunk room, but each firefighter gets a cubicle so they have some privacy.  Sorry that this woman got in the shot.. but I wanted to show some of what the rooms looked like.  We were just walking past at the point when I was trying to take the picture, so I didn't have time to wait and get another.

We also saw where all their gear was, then we went into the bay with all the trucks.  They were fairly standard, with only a few extra things for Disney-specific situations.  Below is one of the ambulances.

When you call 911 from inside a theme park, the call goes to their dispatch which is just behind the Magic Kingdom.  They ask a series of questions and use an algorithm to determine what type of help is needed - usually the paramedics in the park arrive in a golf cart first, unless the situation is extremely serious (or if they're all on calls), in which case a team would go out from the fire station.

Reedy Creek Emergency Services has one of the best 'survival rates' (I think that's what he called it) for things major emergencies because they have so many trained staff on hand.  For instance, there are AEDs all over the parks, always with trained staff nearby to start the defibrillation very quickly, which increases the rate of survival.

Just a random shot below of a bunch of practice dummies stacked in a corner.  One of the cool parts of the Q&A was how they explained about all the specialized skills and gear they need for working at Disney.  For instance, at Soarin' they keep a scissor lift on hand in case they need to rescue people if the ride breaks down, and that they have special tools to unbuckle them.  They have similar tools for Tower of Terror, and he described a little bit of the process of rescuing people from the elevator if they're stuck, how they have ways to get on top of the elevator, etc.  

They also have a special key system that only the firefighters have which will power off a ride and lock all the ride vehicles in place so they don't have to worry about a vehicle moving on the track and injuring them or guests.  Only they carry the keys so a Cast Member can't accidentally turn the ride back on while they're in the middle of a call.  For monorail rescues, they have a special bridge that they will use for evacuating people - they line up a working monorail on the parallel track with the broken down monorail, then put the bridge across the gap and evacuate people that way.  They keep the bridge over near the Magic Kingdom instead of at the fire stations.

Above, he's showing us the hose they use in the resorts if there is a fire.  In all of the stairways, there are places where they can hook up the hoses, in case there's a fire in a guest's room or something.

He showed us all sorts of other tools, like the axes, sledgehammers, hooks, etc.  They don't really have to deal with too many fires working at Disney, because their fire detection system is so extensive, employing not only smoke detectors but heat detectors as well.  The sprinkler system ensures that fires are put out promptly, before things can get really out of hand.  They do answer calls to some surrounding areas in Osceola and Orange County, though, and will sometimes get called out to big wrecks on I4 and whatnot.

At the back of the truck, he showed us the ladders they keep in one of the compartments, including a cool attic ladder that they use in tight spaces.  He gave the example of sometimes they'll get called out to replace the fire detector batteries for the elderly, and they use the attic ladder because it's smaller.  I don't know why, but that tickled me.

The kids got turns climbing in the back of the fire truck, two at a time.

They also got to take pictures in the front of the truck, but only for a second because we were a large group.

 Colwyn above, and Lachlann below.

 Here's Fiona.

And Niall!

It was a really cool tour.  We were there for about an hour and a half, and the firefighters were all very friendly and patient with our endless questions.

I love living here!

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