ANDERSON – On the 133rd birthday of the Anderson Fire Department a new tool was unveiled to teach local children and residents about fire safety.

The new Fire Safety Training Trailer dedicated Tuesday was made possible through a partnership with St. Vincent Ascension and Community Hospital Anderson.

The two hospitals provided $70,000 toward the $80,000 project, Fire Chief Dave Cravens said.

Cravens said the Fire Safety House at the Anderson Public Library will continue to be used but the intent behind the trailer was to take it to schools, senior citizens and community events.

“We have seen a decline in the number of fires the past few years,” Cravens said. “Our fire prevention measures are working.”

He said in 2018 through July there were 80 fire calls and the number for 2019 is down to 53.

“We wanted to be able to reach more children,” Cravens said of the concept.

The specially modified trailer has an interactive bedroom and kitchen area and is equipped with a smoke machine to simulate an actual fire.

Anderson Mayor Thomas Broderick Jr. said the idea started about 18 months ago after the Fire Safety House was reopened at the library.

“This is our newest safety feature,” Broderick said. “It will show the importance of what to do in the event of a fire.”

Tom Bannon, vice president for community engagement with Community Hospital Anderson, said the two hospitals partnered together with the city to purchase and equip the trailer.

“We don’t want to see fire victims come to our hospitals,” he said.

Mike Schroyer, president of St. Vincent Ascension, said when they learned of the project from Cravens they wanted to be a part of the fire safety program.

“We wanted to promote safety and keep people well,” he said.

Broderick said the goal is to educate people and the trailer will be a great tool to protect children and seniors.

Assistant Fire Chief Wilber Kelly said firefighters want to stop accidents before they happen.

Kelly said every residence should be equipped with a smoke detector.

The Anderson Fire Department provides free smoke detectors and safety books to local residents.

Follow Ken de la Bastide on Twitter @KendelaBastide, or call 765-640-4863.

Senior Reporter covering Anderson and Madison County government, politics and auto racing for The Herald Bulletin. Has been working as a journalist in central Indiana since 1977.