Spotlight learns fire safety

Monti the fire dog props himself on Mahan's lap.

By Amelia Tarallo
Hometown Weekly Staff

On Thursday October 3, the Westwood Council on Aging received a visit from some very special guests. The guests had been invited by Community Spotlight, a new group in Westwood formed to help understand the community and what it has to offer residents. Attendees at this Spotlight session - the group’s second ever - grabbed some baked goods and drinks before sitting down to listen to the presenters.

Andy Mahan, one of Westwood’s firefighters, then gave the audience a crash course in fire safety and how firefighters handle conflagrations in specific situations. He began by sharing a poem about fire safety that had the entire audience enthralled. Then, he moved on and shared some surprising facts with the audience, including that you should never run an extension cord under a couch or on a rug, because they can overheat. “Power strips with a fuse are good, but still not recommended,” added Mahan. He also reminded his audience to be careful when using space heaters during the upcoming cold season, and that people should always keep a flashlight, their glasses, and a phone next to their bed in case of a fire.

Andy Mahan shows the proper technique for using a fire extinguisher.

Andy Mahan shows the proper technique for using a fire extinguisher.

Among the many great tips he shared, Mahan told his audience that the Westwood Fire Department recently received smoke detectors to install in residents’ homes. “Over 50% of fatalities are in homes that don’t have smoke detectors,” said Mahan. To that end, he informed the attendees that the Westwood Fire Department will come to a resident’s house and install new fire alarm.

“Do you come in the truck?” one attendee asked, making everyone laugh.

“No, we’ll come in the car,” answered Mahan with a smile.

Following Mahan’s serious introduction into fire safety, the audience was ready for some fun. Everyone was excited to see Westwood Fire Department office manager, Carolyn Wade, and the department’s dog, Monti. Monti, which is short for Montego, is the department’s dedicated stress therapy dog. Monti is a year and a half year old goldendoodle. He was donated to the department by K9 Caring Angels. While living at the fire station, Monti helps firefighters with accumulating stress from the job. When out in the field, Monti helps fire victims calm down while firefighters tend to the situation.

“We were a group of ten friends who decided that we wanted to start a group community,” said Anna Jean Venable of Community Spotlight. The group’s prior meeting revolved around Westwood history, while the next meeting will discuss gardening.

“We don’t have positions. We wanted to come together,” said Venable. The group focuses on Westwood, but the members are hoping to expand. “We hope, over time, to branch out,” said Venable. “As time goes by, we will expand our topics.”

Spotlight’s latest meeting had the entire room filled with people wanting to learn all about fire safety. The added bonus of some treats and a friendly dog made the event an even bigger hit.

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