The Fort Wayne Fire Department's Survive Alive House is a full-size, two-story residential structure equipped with state of the art special effects to simulate a real house fire.
The special effects include: flashing strobe lighting to simulate fire burning, a bedroom door equipped with coils inside the door which can be heated via pumped in water to simulated a door becoming hot from exposure to fire, sound effects of an actual fire burning and non-toxic "smoke" from a fog machine which permeates a portion of the house.
In conjunction with the special effects of the house, burned and melted items from actual house fires are on display for an added element of realism. To the left are some photos of the house.
History of the House
After a tragic house fire claimed the lives of four children in 1979, the local Parent Teacher's Association (PTA) wanted to help prevent a repeat of this tragedy. Along with the Fort Wayne Fire Department an effort was undertaken to promote smoke detectors as a first line of defense in all residential dwellings.
After a successful promotion, which led to no fire deaths in Fort Wayne the following year, the local PTA got the state PTA involved in a statewide smoke detector campaign. The PTA also felt the projects ultimate goal, saving lives, could be enhanced by the construction of a Survive Alive House. Initially, however, the Indiana City Fire Departments of Mishawaka, Hammond and Valparaiso were the first to construct Survive Alive Houses. Meanwhile in 1988, Fort Wayne Police Officer Don Wismer obtained a commitment from Southtown Mall to lease 4 acres to the City of Fort Wayne for the construction of a new Safety Village to replace the dilapidated village in downtown Fort Wayne.
At this time the dream of Fort Wayne having its own Survive Alive House seemed like a real possibility. As Officer Wismer was obtaining private funding for the Safety Village, the FWFD and local PTA were attempting to accomplish the same for the construction of the Survive Alive House. Eventually the magnitude of the project led to the forming of a fundraising committee consisting of the Fort Wayne Fire Department, the Fort Wayne Police Department, the local PTA and the City of Fort Wayne. Four years later, with absolutely no public funds, the Survive Alive House and Safety Village were totally constructed and open to the public. The total cost and construction of the Survive Alive House, nearly $100,000, was provided by the Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc. and was actually the largest single donation of any group involved in the Safety Village construction. As of this date the Associated Builder and Contractors group is still actively involved in the maintenance and improvements at the Survive Alive House.
One member of the group specifically, Dean R. Hall Electric, Inc. has been instrumental in helping keep the Survive Alive House in operational order with donations of products and labor.
Operation: During the school year all the third grade students in the area will take part in the Survive Alive program. The two-hour field trip consists of classroom time for discussion and viewing of videos while the hands on portion consists of two separate escapes from the Survive Alive House. The children will experience the decision making processes needed in an actual house fire emergency without the serious consequences connected to a mistake in a real situation.
All participants will have the opportunity to escape from a second story bedroom window via a home escape ladder or using the "hang and drop" technique, escaping down an interior set of stairs in darkness under "fake" smoke and past "fake" fire, proceeding to a specified meeting place and making an actual emergency phone call from a phone booth to report a fire at their house.
During the summer months and after school hours the house is open to any other group or families that would like to schedule a session. Tours can be scheduled by contacting the Fort Wayne Fire Department Safety Education Division at 260-427-1483 or 260-427-5179.