After visiting seven local schools and day cares during Fire Prevention Week, the Amity Township Fire Department held its annual open house on Saturday, Oct. 6.Amity Fire Chief Kevin Neiswender said more than 1,000 children participated in fire safety discussions, demonstrations and the Berks County Kids Safety House during the national week in recognition of fire safety and prevention.

The open house included Oley EMS, helicopter landings by a Med-EVAC, McGruff the Crime Dog, Smokey The Bear, kids fingerprinting by the Amity Township Police Department, and a K-9 demonstration by the Douglass (Berks) Police Department, as well as free food and refreshments.

"It's good to share with the community what we offer, what we have," Neiswender said. "They can see where their money is going. It is all a volunteer basis."

The department recently hired its first paid driver and houseman, David Gribble, from Lancaster County. Gribble started Oct. 1 and works Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Neiswender said Gribble's salary of $12.50 an hour is paid from the township's general budget.

All of the department's fire vehicles were on display, including the department's one-year-old squad truck, which was purchased last year with help from a $30,000 state grant. The vehicle replaced fire trucks on EMS medical calls.

"Its primary use is medical assist," Neiswender said. "There were 50 medical assist calls last year. That was 50 times that the fire engine didn't need to be taken out. If something breaks on that truck, it is expensive to fix."

The squad truck is equipped with medical equipment (backboards, trauma kits, oxygen, defibrillators) as well as water rescue equipment and chain saws to clear downed trees.

The Amity Fire Department has two engines, one rescue truck, the squad truck, a chief's vehicle and a traffic unit truck with flares.

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