Demonstration to help children

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Ever wondered why firefighters wear breathing apparatus in the Santa Parade?

It is to familiarise children with how firefighters will look and sound during a fire.

North Otago firefighters have regularly taken part in the Waitaki Santa Parade dressed in their full breathing apparatus (BA) kit.

Brigade chief Steve Couper said if young children were trapped in house fires, they might panic when they heard firefighters enter, not just because of the fire but because of how firefighters looked and the sound their equipment made.

During fires, people could become disoriented or panic. Sometimes, children hid in the top of wardrobes or under beds, particularly if they thought they caused the fire.

“We’re there to help them. We’re not big scary people. The noise is just us breathing.

“We have a responsibility to make it as easy as we can to make sure they can get out of the house. They may think they’ve done something wrong, but we want them to come out so we can fight the fire.”

Mr Couper said wearing the BA kit at events like the Santa Parade was part of the wider “prevention first education” push by the New Zealand Fire Service.