No grant money to replace Hamilton Fire Safety House

Hamilton firefighters give a fire safety presentation to students at Brookwood Elementary in 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

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Hamilton firefighters give a fire safety presentation to students at Brookwood Elementary in 2016. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

The Hamilton Fire Department received some bad news last week — it was not awarded a grant to replace its much-used, aging safety house.

For the past 25 years, the Fire Safety House, built in-house by firefighters, has been used to provide first-hand training to children on what to do when in case of a fire.

The training was ramped up following a tragedy in 2014, when shortly before Christmas, Alex Flores-Ortiz, 7, and his sisters, Siclali Flores-Ortiz, 10, and Yesenia Flores-Ortiz, 12, died in a Hamilton house fire.

MORE: After tragedy, fire safety a focus for Hamilton students

Local schools and preschools request the fire department wheel out its Fire Safety House to provide training to students, but the trailer with axle damage is only able to be used in a stationary location now.

In March, the department applied for a $78,000 grant for a new house designed to reach a wider age range, including the middle school and the older adult population.

“We knew it was a long shot,” said Hamilton Fire Chief Mark Mercer. “But we were hoping.”

The current house can be used for fire safety during summertime Safety Town, but taking it on the road to schools is out of the question because of its condition.

“It is old, things have been repaired and repaired again,” the chief said.

Until its rehab, Mercer said the Fairfield Twp. Fire Department has loaned its fire safety house to Hamilton for use in area schools.

Mercer said the department will seek private funding or have a fundraiser to get the current house mobile again.

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