Fire Safety, Food, and Fun at Hopewell Valley’s Fire Prevention Open House and Blood Drive!

    With live fire / rescue and Haz-mat demonstrations, music, prizes, a car show and even a helicopter landing, Hopewell’s Fire Safety Open House will be packed with fun for everyone.Even more importantly, adults and kids who attend the event will learn safety skills that could one day save their homes or their lives.

    The event, brought to the community by the Hopewell Valley Uniformed Firefighters Association IAFF Local 3897 and Hopewell Township Fire District No. 1., will be held on Saturday October 15 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Hopewell Township Municipal Building, 201 Washington Crossing-Pennington Road, and caps off National Fire Prevention Week. This year’s theme: Don’t Wait, Check the Date, reminds everyone to turn over their smoke detectors to check the date of manufacture on the back.

    “When a smoke detector is 10 years old, it should be replaced,” said Ashley Coble, Hopewell Valley Emergency Services Specialist (HVES), a firefighter/EMT and organizer of the event.

    There should be a working smoke detector in each bedroom, and on each level of the house, Coble said. “This is literally the difference between life and death. In most fatal fires, there is either no working smoke detector in the home or the detectors have no working batteries,” cautioned Coble.

    Firefighters and EMTs from HVES and the Township’s volunteer fire, rescue, and first aid units will all be on hand at the event to demonstrate the skills they use as well as teach children and adults ways they can help themselves stay safe. Trenton Police officers — human and canine — will show how they work together.  A Bristol-Myers Squibb Haz-mat team will also demonstrate its specialized skills. Even the music has a fire company connection: Hopewell Fire Department’s Bobby Jones, also known as DJ Bobby Jones, will be spinning the tunes.

    The Children’s Fire Academy will allow youngsters to not just hear about skills they need to prevent fires and stay safe if one happens, but practice them. Highlights include crawling through a trailer filled with realistic but harmless smoke and using a real fire extinguisher to put out a small, controlled fire. An EMS demonstration will teach how bleeding can be controlled and when to call 911.

    “These kids are like sponges, and they pick things up quickly, especially when we make it fun for them,” said Union Fire Company and Rescue Squad Captain Michael Beninato Sr. “We want them to be able to think quickly, recognize a dangerous situation and call 911.”

    As Union’s Youth Advisor, Beninato works with junior firefighters and EMTs, teenagers who train with and assist union’s full members and often join as full members at age 18.  Many of these teens will attend the open house, Beninato said, helping with demonstrations and staffing a table where other township teens can get information about becoming a junior.

    Pennington Fire Company Firefighter Shannan Warwick said her company will display the “jaws of life,” the tools used to cut apart cars so people trapped inside can be safely extricated. There will also be a chance to climb through a fire truck and see the instruments and tools on board. “We will also bring the ladder truck and offer rides to adults and kids in the bucket, so they can learn what that’s like,” Warwick said.

    Firefighters and EMTs will be at the event to answer any questions about their fire companies and rescue squads, and Warwick said she would be very happy to talk to anyone who has ever thought about volunteering themselves.

    “It’s gratifying. It’s rewarding. It’s knowing you’re there for somebody in their time of need to help them and comfort them,” said Warwick.

    Prospective volunteers can also visit

    A blood drive with the Community Blood Council of New Jersey will be held at this year’s event. Anyone who would like to donate blood, please sign up here:

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