Kids had the chance to learn how to use a fire extinguisher to put out a fire. Photo: Denise Civiletti

A big crowd turned out for Riverhead Fire Department’s open house today at the department’s Roanoke Avenue headquarters.

Kids of all ages enjoyed watching firefighters demonstrate how to extinguish a grease fire and oven fire (rule no. 1 deprive it of oxygen – also, don’t put water on a grease fire) and how firefighters use the “jaws of life” to extricate people trapped in vehicles following crashes. Kids also had the opportunity to learn how to use a fire extinguisher and practice on a “working” — albeit contented — fire. Firefighters educated children and adults about fire prevention and fire safety in the department’s Fire Prevention Unit.

Burgers and hotdogs sizzled on a grill and were served up to guests.

Island Federal Credit Union made a $500 donation to the fire department, served coffee and doughnuts and handed out goodies like, pop-sockets, pens and clips.

The finale of today’s event was the “wet-down” of new apparatus — two Seagrave engines and a fire chief’s vehicle. (A fourth new vehicle — a 14-passenger van — was on a road trip: Riverhead firefighters today visited residents of the Firemen’s Home in upstate Hudson, New York.)

A wet-down is a longstanding fire service ritual, dating back to the 1800s, when pumpers were pulled by horses. At a traditional commissioning ceremony, local clergymen blessed the new horse with holy water and prayers for speed, strength, good health and a long life.

Today, Deacon Michael Bonocore conducted prayers and then blessed the new apparatus with holy water.

Following the prayer service, the Flanders, Wading River, Jamesport and Eastport fire departments opened their hoses and doused the new fire trucks.

RiverheadLOCAL photos by Denise Civiletti

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Denise is a veteran local reporter, editor, attorney and former Riverhead Town councilwoman. Her work has been recognized with numerous awards, including investigative reporting and writer of the year awards from the N.Y. Press Association. She is a founder, owner and co-publisher of this website.Email Denise.