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Huntington Beach Fire Department open house goes virtual due to pandemic

Sparky the Fire Dog is featured in videos made by the Huntington Beach Fire Department for its virtual open house this year.
Sparky the Fire Dog is featured in videos made by the Huntington Beach Fire Department for its virtual open house this year.
(Courtesy of Huntington Beach Fire Department)

The Huntington Beach Fire Department open house, which was a one-day event in years past, will be a week-long virtual experience this year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The department is planning to release videos online throughout National Fire Prevention Week, which runs Oct. 4-10, Huntington Beach Fire Department spokesman Eric Blaska said.

“It’s another way to reach the community,” Blaska said. “We’ll be putting the videos on social media, and we’re creating a virtual open house website, to have those videos and information about our Community Emergency Response Team program that volunteers can join.”

Blaska said the videos include a truck crew doing vertical ventilation, a fire engine tour and other events oriented toward children. Some of the videos will include mascot Sparky the Dog and show a letter. Children can fill in the blanks and form words to win prizes like a fire engine drive-by or a tour, as well as a Sparky stuffed animal.

The Huntington Beach Fire Department’s open house typically is held at the training center near the fire station on Gothard Street.

“It’s going to be a little bit different,” Blaska said. “It’s the first time we’ve ever had a virtual open house like this, so we’re excited to see what the outcome is. We hope people enjoy it ... We’re also doing things like a Tower 0 tour and a lifeguard headquarters tour, which are things they wouldn’t normally get to see at the open house.”

The Huntington Beach City School District’s hybrid learning plan has children going back to school on Oct. 26, at the earliest. Nearby districts are reopening next week.

The virtual open house will feature content from the CERT team as well as Emergency Medical Services, Fire Prevention, Fire Suppression and Marine Safety.

This year’s fire prevention team is “Serve Up Fire Safety In the Kitchen.” Cooking is the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries in the U.S., according to the National Fire Prevention Assn.

Open house videos will also be available on HBFD’s social media platforms, Surf City 3 and YouTube, Blaska said.

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