Minutes after an approximately 12-foot tall "house" made of wood pallets began burning near the Skyline Country Club on Friday, a caravan of rescue vehicles arrived on the scene, sirens screaming.
Off of fire trucks and an ambulance jumped 28 youths and a real team of firefighters from the Lanesborough Volunteer Fire Department, during this closing exercise of the department's fourth annual Fire Safety Camp for kids. The fire was quickly quashed.
"It's a really great idea for a camp," said Henry Nakaya, a visiting student from Japan who will enter the fifth grade this fall.
Each year, the program is offered to kids between ages 9 and 12, and is fully funded by donations and the Lanesborough volunteers.
The two-day lineup of demonstrations and events included opportunities to use thermal imaging to navigate a maze, have target practice with fire hoses, wash fire trucks and try on turnout gear. They also learned about water rescue and swimming safety, how fire response services affect taxes and more.
Guests included Shawn Godfrey from Village Ambulance, Margaret Carnevale of the state Bureau of Forest Fire Control, and Andrew Canata from the Massachusetts State Police.
Students took exams on fire safety and attended a graduation program with their families and volunteer staff on Friday afternoon.
"It's been a packed two days, but we hope they take away the basic rules of safety -- that they're responsible for their own well-being," said camp coordinator Mary Reilly. "I also hope they take away an appreciation [for fire departments]. It's not just fire and it's not all fun and games."