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Home > Clerc Center > D.C. House of Pain

KDES Students Welcome Firefighters from the House of Pain

Image: Firefighter and KDES student on  fire truck

Kendall Demonstration Elementary School (KDES) students from sixth, seventh, and eighth grade stood outside their school watching a ladder extend from a hook and ladder truck up to the roof. "Why would you want to go up on the roof of a burning building? What happens if the roof collapses?" asked one of the students during the demonstration, which was held in honor of Fire Prevention Week, October 3-9. Firefighter Mike Fulcher replied, "Good question! You're right-it is dangerous and a roof can collapse. We go up to vent the roof of the building to allow smoke and heat to escape. This helps us to control the fire and save lives." As he finished his explanation, another firefighter, Andre Edwards nimbly climbed the ladder from the truck to the roof while carrying a chainsaw and once on the roof waved to the children below.

KDES students are fortunate to have firefighters as neighbors on the campus of Gallaudet University.  Since 2005, the Appleby Building on the corner of the campus has served as the temporary headquarters for Engine Company 10 while their actual headquarters is under renovation. Each year during Fire Prevention Week, the firefighters come to give a fire safety demonstration to students from preschool through eighth grade. This year the company brought Engine No. 13 (their hook and ladder truck) and Engine No. 10 for the students to see the trucks and fire equipment up close.

Firefighter Iganacio McDougal demonstrated the equipment worn on the job. Students were curious about how the breathing mask worked and how quickly a firefighter could get dressed, especially with putting on the large heavy boots. The firefighter demonstrated in reverse by taking off the protective equipment down to his uniform and stocking feet-no room for shoes inside those boots! Firefighter Fulcher emphasized that, in the event of a fire, students should never be afraid of a firefighter coming towards them, even though he or she could look scary in the mask. He encouraged the children to ask their parents to practice a fire escape route in their homes.

Engine Company 10 is also known as the "House of Pain" Fire Department because of how many fires and other emergencies it handles. The company holds the distinction of being the busiest fire engine company in the nation in terms of the fire and medical emergency calls it responds to each year. In fact, towards the end of the demonstration, a call for a rescue came over their truck radio. Fulcher started to apologize that they had to leave. One of the students cut in to say, "You have an emergency to go to? Then GO!" while waving his hands away in a gesture of urgency. Fulcher smiled, waved, and swung himself up into the cab of the truck, off to answer another call for Engine Companies 10 and 13.

The KDES students, teachers, and staff would like to express their appreciation to the firefighters from Engine Company Nos. 10 and 13 for taking the time to share their vital fire safety demonstration lessons with our school.