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Firefighters take chance to meet crowds at their annual open day

STORMY conditions failed to deter members of the public from learning more about fire safety at a West Meads event.


Bognor Regis fire station welcomed hundreds of visitors to its annual open day last Saturday.


The event offered them the chance to sit in fire engines, work a fire hose, watch an aerial rescue mission and take part in a rescue mission courtesy of a realistic fire engine simulator.


The station’s watch manager, Sean Embleton, was pleased to see such a large turn out despite the windy weather.


He said: “The kids love it. We have an open day every year and it’s always really popular.


“It’s great to see so many people here even though the weather is so bad.


Among members of the fire department were representatives of other organisations such as West Sussex County Council, the RNLI, Neighbourhood Watch and the poppy appeal.


Sean explained why they were there. “We hope it’s educative and teaches people about fire prevention and reducing risks. But as well as raising awareness we hold the day for different community services to come together,” he said.


Katie Harsley, from Sussex Police’s Arun policing team, agreed. She said: “We’re here to support Sussex Fire and Rescue but also to promote awareness about what we do and to be a friendly face of the police.


“It’s really important that kids can approach us and today they’ve been really engaged with what we do, which is fantastic.”

Her thoughts were also shared by Tracey Light, from the county council. “Like all the other organisations here today, we are here to meet with members of the community and provide as much information as possible. It’s all about keeping people safe,” she said.


Activities on the day proved highly popular with the fire engine simulator proving to be one of the biggest hits.


Abby Leggatt, from Bognor Regis, and her four-year-old son Alex enjoyed the experience.


Abby said: “It was really good. It felt like we were actually driving around this area in a fire engine.


“Earlier Alex really enjoyed getting to use the hose as well. He sprayed me with water!”


For Rustington resident Eileen Greene and her foster son Daniel, aged 10, the simulation looked to be one of the day’s highlights too.


She said: “This is the first time we’ve come to this and it’s hard not to be impressed with it all.


“Daniel is looking forward to going on the fire engine simulation as well as sitting in a fire engine.”


Many of the young attendees also enjoyed using the fire hose.


Ksawery Kraj, aged three, said: “I liked using the fire hose like a real fireman.”


Rose Green siblings Jude and Poppy Dupoid felt the same way.


Poppy, aged three, said: “The best thing is the hose.”


Her five-year-old brother Jude said: “I think being a fireman is really cool.”


Although there was plenty of fun to be had, the importance of fire safety was never lost.


Sean said: “The Grenfell disaster has led to more awareness about fire from people living in high rise buildings.


“People who live in those types of buildings should made sure they get fire safety information from their buildings’ owners.


“Our station has already visited every high rise building in Bognor Regis to distribute information.”

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