Open house aims to entertain and educate

Capt. Andrew Ziemer of the Hinsdale Fire Department said calls regularly come in to report concerning but confusing sounds.

“We get service calls all the time when something’s beeping,” he said. “‘What does that beep mean?’ ”

Visitors to the Hinsdale Fire and Police Open House this Saturday, Oct. 9, can find out with this year’s theme, “Learn the Sounds of Fire Safety.”

Ziemer said the aim is to help people distinguish between audible alerts such as the smoke alarm chirp and the carbon monoxide detector beep. The annual event, set for 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the fire station, 121 Symonds Drive, is held in observance with Fire Prevention Week.

“It’s our opportunity to have people’s attention to hone in on those things that are really important when it comes to making your house as safe as possible,” he said.

The event also will feature fun and educational fire activities for families and attendees of all ages, including live fire and fire extinguisher demos, and the fire safety trailer. The younger ones can pretend they’re responding to a fire emergency in a simulated exercise.

“It’s an opportunity for kids to force a door with pretend tools and crawl into a window using a ladder,” Ziemer said. “It’s a little bit of fun, but it also gives parents and kids an opportunity to see the different tasks that firefighters would do on a scene.”

The “Fight the Fire” game affords children a chance to test their aim.

“It s little house with flames in each window, and kids just put the flames out using a pretend fire extinguisher,” he said. “It’s demonstrating extinguish and the importance of having working extinguishers in your home.”

The police department right next door will offer child fingerprinting, opportunities to meet officers and tours of the police station, among other attractions.

Ziemer said the fire department is thankful to be able to stage the open house again after having to cancel last year’s event due to the pandemic.

“It’s always fun to open up the station and have the local residents and business owners see what we do,” Ziemer said. “It’s nice to be able to open our door and teach people about fire safety.”

He noted that fire station access will be more limited than in years past due to continuing COVID-10 protocols.

With all the electronic and digital devices in people’s lives, Ziemer suggested discerning danger alerts from ring tones can be tough. He emphasized the importance of having a working smoke detector of each level of one’s home — and, even better, in each bedroom.

“They’ll hear the smoke detector over their bed and be able to react more quickly than if the smoke detector downstairs went off,” he said.

Those who want a preview of the different alerts can check out the National Fire Protection Association’s website at

“If they go to the website, there’s actually a video of different sounds and what those sounds mean,” he said.

Most of the open house takes place outside, but visitors are asked to bring a mask in case they go indoors.

Ziemer said the occasion is always a community calendar highlight.

“It’s always a good time to show what we do, but most importantly educate the public to prevent fires,” he said, “and to educate them on different prevention tools.”

The night before the open house, people can show their respect for first responders who have lost their lives due to fire in the 27th annual Silent Parade. The procession of vehicles from a number of area departments will head out at 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 8, starting on Chicago Avenue south of Village Hall and continuing west through Clarendon Hills, Westmont and Downers Grove, ultimately ending in Lisle.

“People can line up along Chicago Avenue into Clarendon Hills,” Ziemer said. “We encourage people to come out and be part of the remembrance.”

For more information on the Fire Prevention Week events, visit

Author Bio

Ken Knutson is associate editor of The Hinsdalean