By Michelle Dupler
Josh and Audrey Hughes experienced the challenges their dad, Jason, faces as a Franklin Township firefighter.
They stepped into his steel-toed, steel-plated boots, and tried on the 65 pounds of equipment he must wear every time he is dispatched to an emergency.
Josh, 10, and Audrey, 8, also got to try some of the fun parts of their dad’s job, like climbing onto a fire engine.
The siblings were just two of several children exploring different facets of the township’s fire department at a safety demonstration in the Sears parking lot on Oct. 5.
The department set up two back-up engines, two back-up ambulances and assorted types of fire equipment as part of an event designed to show the public what the department does and just how much their gear costs.
The township placed on the Nov. 5 ballot a tax levy asking to increase the property tax to 5.36 mills for every dollar of valuation, or about 54 cents per $100 dollars.
That represents an increase of about $164 annually on a $100,000 home. The money would help the fire department bridge some funding gaps, after the township lost money from reductions in state and local tax revenues.
A display table showed firefighting clothing and apparatus firefighters wear costs about $2,500 per set. A thermal camera, used to detect lingering hot spots inside of walls or roofs costs $13,000.
The self-contained breathing apparatus every firefighter wears costs $5,500 and the cardiac monitors and defibrillators run about $30,000.
Assistant Fire Chief Chris Grile said the department needs to upgrade the defibrillators, among the department’s other needs, like replacing at least one aging fire truck.
Even a used fire engine can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, online marketplaces show.
Firefighters who volunteered their time had informational fliers available for residents to learn more about the levy, but Grile said that was not the real reason they were there.
“The biggest thing we want to do is gear everything around children’s education,” he said. “We want them to be comfortable with public safety officers — to trust us.”
The event also presented an opportunity to ask residents about safety precautions they take inside their homes, including whether they have working smoke detectors and are using extension cords safely.
“This is a great way to get out the message (about safety),” Grile said.