Inside the Orange County Firefighters Museum and Fire Safety Education Center

While many cities feature a Firefighters Museum – presenting the rich history of this noble profession – the Village of Montgomery, NY is one of the few to also include a dedicated Fire Safety Education Center to host fire safety presentations.

“Education was always part of the mission statement for the firefighters museum,” says Marybeth Majestic, Administrative Assistant for the Orange County Firefighters Museum and Fire Safety Education Center. “The property also lent itself well to it: the museum is housed in the old Village of Montgomery firehouse, which featured a barn where the horses that drew the firefighters’ carriages would stay. That barn was the perfect extension to place our education center.”

Being located only one block away from the fire station, the Fire Safety Education Center shares many resources with the local Fire Department. “When schools visit the education center, the Fire Department will bring in a fire truck along with ‘Tank’, their inflatable mascot, to enhance the presentation. In return, the museum will provide the Fire Department with our portable Hazard Kitchen simulator for presentations and special events held at the firehouse, when requested.”

The Hazard Kitchen fire safety simulator

The Fire Safety Education Center features multiple learning stations:

  • Child-Size firefighter turn-out gear and helmets allow children to dress up as firefighters. At the same time, a mannequin dressed in full turn-out gear or occasionally a real firefighter will demonstrate the elements of their equipment, complete with breathing apparatuses. This helps making children feel more comfortable with what they might perceive as intimidating outfits.
  • One presentation area features a Smart Board and projector, where children are asked to identify fire safety hazards on the screen. All presentation areas can comfortably accommodate about 30 elementary school students. The lucky ones can even sit on the firetruck benches during the presentations!
  • A 9-1-1 simulator telephone helps teach children how to properly use 9-1-1 and what they need to know in case of an emergency.
  • Finally, there is an open area that is perfect to practice “Stop, Drop and Roll” routines.

But the centerpiece of the Fire Safety Education Center is certainly the Hazard Kitchen fire safety simulator, looking all the more convincing considering it is set up in an actual kitchen! “At the time the horse barn was being renovated, one of the members of the board was updating their kitchen: their old cabinets and countertops were recycled and integrated in the education center to help teach fire safety and prevention.”

In context, the simulator looks so real that the audience needs to be reassured that the fires are not! “We begin the presentation by telling the children that it is all pretend, and not to be afraid. But still, when the special effects like the moving flames in the kitchen pot or toaster start, the children are mesmerized. It’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop!”

However, children warm up to the presentation quickly through participation and interactivity. “We ask our students to point out what is right or wrong in the kitchen throughout the presentation.”

And there’s no doubt the children take home the lessons learned. “We had a five-year old who remembered what to do when she called 9-1-1, which probably saved her grandmother’s life.” Children also help relay fire safety information back to their parents, grandparents and other family members through homework assignments, like planning and practicing fire escape routes, learning their addresses for 9-1-1 and checking the batteries of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors in their homes.

The Orange County Firefighters Museum and Fire Safety Education Center is further considering the addition of a Hazard House simulator, which would help show children, and their families, how to identify and prevent fire hazards in all rooms of the house.

Plans for the future

The Orange County Firefighters Museum and Fire Safety Education Center already host an annual gala to honor the outstanding work of “Fire Prevention Officers” by recognizing a Fire Prevention Officer of the Year. Through initiatives like this, the Fire Safety Education Center hopes to increase awareness in the tri-county, tristate areas, and encourage organizations to visit and make good use of its facilities.

For more information, visit the museum website - and follow them on Facebook.

Fire Safety Education Center


Next to the Orange County Firefighters Museum is a dedicated Fire Safety Education Center.


Fire Safety Education Center

The Fire Safety Education Center is housed in what was the barn of the Old Ville of Montgomery Firehouse.

Fire Safety Education Center


Child-Size firefighter turn-out gear and helmets allow children to dress up as firefighters

Fire Safety Education Center


All presentation areas can comfortably accommodate about 30 elementary school students.


4 Quebec Fire Departments share a new Hazard Apartment for Seniors simulator

After being introduced to our new fire safety simulator during the June 2015 Interschutz Expo in Hannover, Germany, Chief of the St-Jerôme Fire Department Daniel Hillman, encouraged 4 local Fire Departments to pool their resources and acquire a simulator of their own.

Hazard Apartment for Seniors simulator was specially designed for presentations to the elderly in senior homes. According to Modeltech trainer Jacques Lanthier, “the addition of the Hazard Kitchen module to the Hazard Apartment will be a key asset in teaching seniors how to react when a kitchen fire breaks out”.

Following a request by Public Safety Officers from the cities of Mirabel and St-Jérôme, extra props such as a BBQ, a propane tank and flammable contents were added to the basement. In addition, new illustrations were prepared to highlight additional hazards. For example, while people may think it safe to put out cigarettes in the soil of flower beds, some are actually filled with peat moss, a highly flammable material. Also, new hazards linked to ethanol fireplaces will be presented.

Launch of the Hazard Apartment during the Ahuntsic-Cartierville Neighborhood Fair in Montreal, QC

Launch of the Hazard Apartment during the Ahuntsic-Cartierville Neighborhood Fair in Montreal, QC

The Montreal Fire Department (Service Sécurité Incendie de Montréal or SIM) teaches fire safety to audiences of all age groups using a full suite of Modeltech simulators, including the original Hazard House, the Hazard Kitchen with stovetop module and our newest Hazard Apartment adapted for senior audiences.

As early as 1995, the SIM was part of the development team for the original Hazard House. Officers from the Public Education Department and Modeltech Int’l designers worked together to create a new brand of fire safety simulators. Since then, several new models were designed, including the Hazard Kitchen and more recently, the Hazard Apartment for Seniors.

This latest Hazard Apartment for Seniors simulator was designed with the help of Captain Eric Tisseur, who suggested adding several technical features. Interactive smoke detectors, backlit exit signs and a stroboscopic alarm activated from a real pull station all prove how important SIM’s contribution was in making our simulators even more relevant to audiences.

The Hazard Kitchen module proved especially valuable during presentations to the elderly. “Seniors enjoy cooking, but are more likely to forget things on the stove: the Hazard Kitchen acts as a visual reminder of what could happen, and how to react.”

The SIM’s fully equipped simulator also includes a “hood vent” module with LCD screen, showing how fire can spread inside an air duct – another custom request from Captain Tisseur that our R&D successfully delivered.

The SIM has made extensive use of our fire safety simulators during neighborhood fairs as well as community events throughout the summer. A full range of public education equipment allows the Fire Department to reach audiences of all age and ethnic groups, in order to maximize retention of safety messages and promote good habits.

Hazard Apartment Fire Safety Prop

Neighborhood fairs and community events are perfect opportunities to teach the public about fire safety. 

Fire Dept. Deploys Hazard House

This article was originally published inThe Dickson Herald, Feb 5, 2014, by Josh Arntz.

House more interactive for school children

Fire prevention officer Lt. Julia Holt “loves talking” fire safety at local schools, and recently debuted a new teaching tool to her program.

Holt, with the Dickson Fire Department, visited Dickson Elementary School last week to teach home fire and hazard safety to students during library time. She brought along the department’s new Hazard House— a replica play house that lights up, projects sound and simulates an electrical arc and smoke via a remote control.

“It’s fun to play with and they love it, love it, love it,” Holt said about the Hazard House.

The Modeltech International Hazard House replaced the fire department’s 1983 Smoke Safety Trailer, which the city sold last year. The fire department used those funds to buy the Hazard House.

Holt explained the Hazard House is very interactive and “hands-on” for the students, and keeps their attention.

“The hardest part,” she continued, “there’s so many ‘oohs’ and ‘aahs’ and questions, it’s hard to get a word in. They’re so interested in what the fire department has to show with the Hazard House.”

Overview of the Hazard House fire safety prop

The 80-pound collapsible house includes three levels/floors—a basement with an office and garage (carbon monoxide hazards); a kitchen and living room with a fireplace, on the middle floor; and a bathroom and bedroom on the top level.

A stairway (with trip hazards) connects all three levels, and smoke simulators demonstrate the “chimney effect” as smoke quickly rises from each floor to the top level.

Velcro flaps and tokens (like Velcro carbon monoxide stickers) in each room illustrate potential hazards, like a roll of flaming paper towels over the stove top in the kitchen; or candles on a nightstand in the bedroom.

The students remedy the hazards by flipping the Velcro flaps and using the props. Props and 3D parts range from a grill, lawnmower and gas can (which should be stored in the garage), to a cooking pot on the kitchen stove, rolled up towels and smoke/carbon monoxide detectors.

Holt reported that Hazard House has “stepped up my teach experience a notch,” and helped her gear safety instruction toward specific areas of the home safety and hazards.

The bedroom door lights up red as the smoke simulator fills the home. The red glow indicates the door is hot, Holt explained, and the rolled-up towel props placed at the bottom of the door demonstrate how the students can stop the smoke from entering the room.

A tiny lighting bolt and electrical arcing sound show students the dangers of electrical cords in the bathroom.

“It shows how they could be hurt or killed by the shock,” Holt said.

A safe and effective teaching tool

The smoke is generated from a nontoxic fog fluid that doesn’t trigger asthma attacks, she noted, and children are under constant supervision with the electrical arc simulation.

Holt told Travis Cothron’s fifth-grade class Friday afternoon that her No. 1 job is being a mom, and her family has an escape plan for home emergencies, which they practice.

She explained your nose goes to sleep with you at bedtime, so smoke detectors are necessary to wake you up during a fire. Smoke detectors should be on every level of the home, she noted, outside every sleeping area and in bedrooms.

Holt called on a student to place tiny smoke detector props throughout rooms in the Hazard House.

The Hazard House can accommodate additional floors and settings, like farms and neighborhoods. Holt hopes to add different venues to the house each year to expand on home safety and hazards.

Trading their ‘Original Hazard House’ after… 13 years of use!

The Mattydale Fire Department in New York has been using its ‘Original Hazard House’ fire education simulator since 2002.

After 13 years of continuous service, the very popular fire safety prop was recently traded in for a ‘Large Group Hazard House’, to better fulfill their fire prevention program’s needs.

Quality of the product and good care from the public educators team during 13 years have allowed Modeltech International to offer Mattydale FD good trade-in value to help reduce the cost of the new and even more effective ‘Large Group Hazard House’ training tool.

Their new generation simulator includes a bidirectional link to the latest Smart Screen, supporting the presentation with compelling real-life footage and animated graphics. It also has room to grow, with pre-existing connections to add the new ‘Hazard Kitchen’ modules later on.

Congratulations Mattydale FD for this wise decision that is in line with the continuous improvement of your fire prevention program!

Hazard House Fire Safety Prop

John Kilpatrick, Fire Prevention Officer from Mattydale Fire Department, NY, showcasing the Hazard House simulator during the “Fire Safety Day” for the employees of of National Grid, in Syracuse, NY.

R&D: "Hoarding" Simulator For First Responders Coming Soon

R&D: "Hoarding" Simulator For First Responders Coming Soon 

Firefighters entering unsanitary and cluttered environments face serious dangers.

They can become trapped and disoriented when pulling their hoses through piles of materials and the water stream can knock down these piles, cutting off the firefighters' exit routes. Gasoline, pressurized bottles and stacks of newspapers are all highly flammable. Finally, because the extreme weight of hoarded items on the structure can create structural integrity problems, the added weight of water during fire suppression can cause entire rooms to collapse.

In collaboration with the Ontario Fire Marshal, Modeltech is currently developing a simulator to help train first responders on how to safely approach such environments. More information will be unveiled in upcoming editions of the Hazard Herald as the project evolves.

UPDATE: The Hoarding Simulator is now available as part of our Custom Designs series!

> See it here


From Weeds To Breaking Bad: The Hazards Of Clandestine Drug Operations

From Weeds To Breaking Bad: The Hazards Of Clandestine Drug Operations

When responding to a call, police and firefighters never know what to expect. But marijuana "grow houses" and clandestine drug labs take unpredictability to a whole other level.

Marijuana operations are typically found in middle-class to high-end neighborhoods. All rooms in a house are converted to drug production except for one, which becomes a bedroom to the premise "gardener". "Between the electrical hazards of a meter bypass and brutal booby traps, first responders need to be extremely vigilant", says Dale Moore, Fire Protection Specialist for the Office of the Fire Marshal in Ontario.

Mari-Grow Ops and Drug Lab Simulators

Mr. Moore worked closely with Modeltech in developing the new Mari-Grow Ops and Drug Lab simulators as visual teaching aids to train first responders. Since they were first unveiled at the Ontario OAFC Conference last May, the new simulators have been featured at the Police College in Ottawa, as part of a 2-day training workshop to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, fire departments and fire code inspectors in London and another training session in Napanee.

"Everywhere we went, people were amazed. They couldn't get over it: they thought it was the greatest thing."

The smartscreen feature on the Modeltech simulator is a powerful tool to customize presentations by using real-life footage and pictures. "We have access to a vast library of material – mostly from past cases – and can share this information across organizations for training purposes".

Mr. Moore sees many potential audiences for this new line of simulators. "Social services, neighborhood watches and police services can all teach citizens how to spot clandestine drug operations in their neighborhood, understand the danger to their community and who to contact. People need to act, or word will get around that this neighborhood tends to look the other way and criminals can set up shop unhindered."

Mr. Moore urges people to call the local police and not to act as vigilantes – clandestine drug operations are heavily defended, and even approaching a backyard window can mean putting your life in danger.

> See the Marijuana Grow Ops & Drug Lab simulator

Education In Europe: How The Hazard House Is Used In Germany

Education In Europe: How The Hazard House Fire Safety Simulator Is Used In Germany

Herbert Christ has been a Fire Safety Educator at Kreisfeuerwehrverband Gotha – the County Fire Association of Gotha, in the state of Thuringia – since 1999. His organization mainly teaches schools and kindergartens about the basics of fire and energy safety, using the Modeltech Hazard House as a presentation tool. 

"It's a great invention", says Herbert Christ. "The kids are amazed by the level of details and small moveable parts". Mr. Christ says that children's natural curiosity makes them quick to point out moving elements that could be overlooked during the presentation. "The kids end up teaching the firefighters!"

He further adds that his fellow educators enjoy working with the new simulator, finding it easy to use. "It does most of the work by itself!"

Timing couldn't be more perfect to release a new version of the simulator in Germany. After an annual meeting with Fire Safety Educators from all 16 German states, Mr. Christ observed that "people are more and more concerned about fire safety, and regulation is becoming more strict regarding smoke detectors."

The County Fire Association of Gotha works closely with state associations, and Herbert Christ has long been Chief of the Kreisjugendfeuerwehr Gotha – the County Fire Association for Young Firefighters. Similar to the Air Cadets or Boy Scouts, the Association helps youths 6 to 18 years old from over 1,000 schools achieve personal growth and build self-esteem through competitions and workshops.

See our new video from Gotha Fire Department, Germany.


How European Fire Departments Are Using The New Hazard House

How European Fire Departments Are Using The New Hazard House Fire Safety Simulator

The Hague Region Fire Department – The Netherlands

Annelies Engelenburg is Program Leader of the Public Education Fire Prevention Program at the The Hague Region Fire Department, a group of several fire stations working as a single entity.While the organization features a centralized structure, Fire Educators are encouraged to adapt their work locally and take into account their neighborhood's unique needs.


Some activities are staples across the region (presentations in elementary schools, during city fairs, etc.), while some high-risk areas require more attention, such as home visits. "Next year, we plan on hosting Fire Prevention Sessions after fire incidents, with people who have just experienced a home fire", mentions Ms. Engelenburg.

In addition to the Hazard House simulator, the The Hague Region Fire Department uses several education tools as part of its presentations: booklets, stickers, giveaways... The organization also has a special educational package for younger children in high-risk areas, as well as a mobile Home Safety Trailer. "We're also developing a Fire Education Center for older children and teenagers", says Ms. Engelenburg. "It will be a dedicated wing inside a local fire station and provide the perfect learning environment for presentations and workshops."

While the Hazard House is only a recent addition to the Department, Fire Safety Educators are very enthusiastic to use it in the field and enjoy the freedom it provides. "Our most experienced educators enjoy that the Hazard House is a non-linear tool that can match their individual presentation style. Some like to start with a daily routine, others approach it room-by-room, others ask the audience questions..."

In the Netherlands, Ms. Engelenburg has observed a gradual shift from fire response to fire prevention. "Our work is not just about extinguish fires or preventing them from spreading: it's about making sure they don't happen in the first place!". Fire education is now becoming a national effort, with long-term goals and a more closely organized structure.

Playing The Instruments: An Introductory Seminar To Simulators

Playing The Instruments: An Introductory Seminar To Safety Simulators

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services held its 19th Fire & Life Safety Education Conference earlier this fall, on September 25 and 26. Among the numerous workshops and seminars, a presentation called Playing the Instruments – featuring Modeltech's very own Hazard House and Hazard Kitchen simulators – showed how the use of props can help support public education.

"Educators can be intimidated at first, but you have to see it as just another tool in the toolbox", says Timothy Howe, Assistant S.A.F.E. coordinator and presenter. With the help of fellow educator Laurie Rocco of the Palmer Fire Department, Timothy showed how to set up the simulator from its carrying case, and how the props can be used to cover different topics, through different paths.

"You don't have to use everything: the key is staying focused, and adapting the lesson to your audience."

Props can be a powerful visual aid to reinforce the spoken message. "People remember what they practice", says Jennifer Mieth, Public Information Officer for the Department of Fire Services. "By practicing the correct way to react in a non-threatening environment, we help people overcome their initial instinct and take proper action should the actual situation arise".

The choice of fire safety simulators

The Massachusetts Department of Fire Services owns 2 Hazard Kitchen and 4 Hazard House simulators, which are made available to local fire departments, and also provides training on their use.

For the past 18 years, the organization has been sponsoring the state-wide S.A.F.E. Grant for Student Awareness of Fire Education, helping local fire departments offer school presentations. This year, the Department is also introducing the Senior S.A.F.E. Grant, to promote fire safety to the elder population.

"As long as people are being injured and killed during fires, you never do enough", says Jennifer. With baby-boomers growing older, seniors represent the greatest risk of fire incidents, already making up one third of fire-related deaths. "Public education has already helped reduce youth casualties during fires by 70%: we aim to achieve the same level of success with older adults."



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