York's mobile fire safety house designed to prepare kids for fire dangers
York City firefighters have a new tool to teach children about the dangers of fires, how to prevent them and ways to escape a burning home.
The city's fire safety house is a haulable trailer that's been turned into a mobile classroom, with bleachers for kids to sit on, mock rooms including a kitchen, bedroom and living area, a window so children can practice climbing to safety and more, according to Lisa Altland.
"It's equipped with smoke detectors, a smoke machine and a phone for (mock) calling 911," she said. "The door actually heats up to show children what to do if they're caught in a fire."
Altland, the wife of retired York City Assistant Fire Chief Greg Altland, said she started raising money for the fire safety house about three years ago. Her husband retired in January.
"My husband, when he decided to retire, said he wished he could get one for the city, and I said, 'I’ll get you one,'" Lisa Altland told The York Dispatch, then joked, "I hope he doesn’t expect gifts like this all the time."
Creating the fire safety house cost close to $70,000, she said, adding there's some donated money left over to pay for insurance costs and maintenance.
"I love it," she said. "It's exactly what my vision was."
Jenna Jansen, wife of York City firefighter Glenn Jansen Jr., volunteered to help make the fire house a reality.
She said she learned about the Altlands' efforts to create a mobile fire-safety classroom a day after the line-of-duty deaths of firefighters Ivan Flanscha and Zach Anthony on March 22, 2018.
Flanscha, 50, and Anthony, 29, were on the fourth floor of the burned-out former Weaver Piano & Organ Co. building at 127 N. Broad St. when the floor collapsed and they fell to the ground.
Greg Altland and firefighter Erik Swanson were on the fourth floor and also fell to the ground when that portion of the building collapsed. They suffered injuries but survived.
"The day after the collapse, a bunch of us wives assembled at another wife's house," Jansen said. "We were all sitting around a table figuring out what tasks had to be done and figuring out how to take care of the four wives (of the injured and dead).
"Once we determined that their immediate needs were being met, I said, 'Let me reach out to Wahl Clippers and see if they can do something for the fire safety house.'"
In 2016, Flanscha and Anthony appeared in a commercial for Wahl Clippers Corp.
After their deaths, the company donated $25,000 toward the fire safety house project.
Also donating to the creation of the fire safety house were First Energy Corp., parent company of Met-Ed; WellSpan Health; and the Volunteer Firemen's Insurance Service, which is part of Glatfelter Insurance Group, according to Jansen.
"This is about creating safe environments for kids," Jansen said. In addition to being the wife of a York City firefighter, she is the daughter-in-law of Dover Township fire marshal Glenn Jansen Sr., who for many years served as the township's fire chief.
"It's going to be a good tool for kids," York City Fire Chief Chad Deardorff said. "We're excited to get it out (into the community), and we truly appreciate those who donated funding for it."
York City officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the new fire safety house the afternoon of Friday, Nov. 1.
— Reach senior crime reporter Liz Evans Scolforo at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.