But before the NHRFR was formed in 1999, Flood was a dedicated servant to the Weehawken Fire Department and has served as both the fire inspector and public education officer in Weehawken.
One of his responsibilities is to insure that the children of Weehawken recognize what to do in the face of a fire.
"Every year, we go out to the schools and give the students from pre-kindergarten through third grade a presentation about fire safety," Flood said.
Flood recently went to Webster School to give his annual presentation, teaching the youngsters that a smoke detector is like a superhero.
"Because the smoke detector saves lives, like a superhero does, the smoke detector is a superhero," Flood said. "We put it in the kids' terms, so that they could all understand."
Flood, along with NHRFR Capt. Victor Vangelakos and Firefighter Ralph Peralta, gave the youngsters other demonstrations, such as the "Stop, Drop and Roll" method, in case a youngster's clothing gets caught on fire, or the "Crawl Below the Smoke" routine.
"Wherever the smoke is, the fresher air is closer to the ground," Flood said. "So we teach them to crawl below the smoke and get out to safety."
Fire Prevention Month
It's all part of the national Fire Prevention Month programs that take place in the schools throughout the country. Flood said that it is vital for the youngsters to have some idea what to do in case of a fire in the home.
"We have fire drills at school, so why not have a fire drill at home?" Flood said. "They have to plan some sort of an escape in case there is a fire. There should be a plan at home."
Flood said that there is a puppet show that is acted out, so the kids could enjoy themselves while learning the fire safety techniques.
"We try to make it as interesting as possible for the kids," Flood said. "We give the older kids, the third graders, different tips, like never play with matches or to stay away from the stove. The third graders are a little more mature and understand a lot. But you would be surprised with what the little kids learn. It's really impressive."
As part of the program, the NHRFR sends a fire engine to the school, so the youngsters can then climb aboard and see how the fire equipment works.
The children also receive free gifts, like honorary fire hats, that they wear with pride.
"The kids always have affection for firemen," Flood said. "They look forward to us coming to the schools. They always look up to us with a sense of awe, so we know that they're listening. They definitely take what we do seriously, because the program has been known to work."
Protecting the children
In the past year alone, youngsters under the age of 10 were heroes in fires in North Bergen and Guttenberg, alerting residents the proper escape routes in house fires. "We need to teach the kids what they're supposed to do, so they are safe," Flood said. "But they can also make sure that others in their homes are safe as well. If something goes wrong, they'll know what to do and how to get out. You hear stories of kids hiding in closets or under beds during fires and that's not what we want them to do. Added Flood, "The message is definitely getting out. You hear of the cases and stories where kids act as heroes. We want the kids of Weehawken to be alert and ready." Keeping seniors safe
As part of Fire Prevention Month, Flood also gave presentations to the township's senior citizens, appearing twice at the Senior Nutritional Center and another time at the St. Lawrence Parish Center.
"The message with the seniors is a little different in that we teach them about never leaving food cooking on the stove or leaving candles burning and unattended," Flood said. "We also teach the seniors to give their space heaters proper clearance and tell them to use surge protectors with their electrical appliances."
It's all part of the "Save A Life" program that has been featured across the nation. As part of the program, any senior who was in need of a replacement battery for their home smoke detector, the Weehawken Fire Prevention Bureau will supply a new one.
"Even if they have a tough time getting the battery in their detectors, they can call the Fire Prevention office and we'll send someone to help replace the battery," Flood said.
With the approval of Mayor Richard Turner and the township council, the seniors all received complementary potholders for participating in the program.
"The children and the senior citizens are the focus of the program and they should be," Flood said.
If there is a senior citizen in need of assistance with their smoke detectors, they are to call the Fire Prevention office at (201) 865-6610.
Jim Hague can be reached via e-mail at either OGSMAR@aol.com or email@example.com