WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- As each child crawls through the fire house filled with fog, Neal Snyder is teaching one of the most important lessons of fire survival:
Don't hide. Get outside.
Snyder hosts the firefighter training show at the York Fair. Multiple times a day, Snyder invites children to dress up like a firefighter and put out a mock fire. In the process, kids are learning fire safety, and what to do in case of an emergency.
"It give kids a chance to see what it might be like to be a firefighter," Snyder says. "That's kind of our motto, trying to inspire the next generation of heroes."
Snyder's show is a solo act. He travels the country going to fairs every year for the last 12 summers. Snyder himself is not a firefighter, but his brother's career as a firefighter for more than 20 years inspired him to put on a show that would get children interested in the profession.
Despite the soggy conditions, kids of all ages are able to take part. Snyder's show starts by plucking a few kids from out of the audience, and dressing them up in a firefighter jacket and helmet. Of course, not everything in a firefighter's life is glamorous, so the "trainees" start the show by polishing up Snyder's "Tiny Tanker" truck.
Soon enough though, the station horn blares, and it's time to go to work. Teams work to hook up a hose to a truck. Then, using a real fire extinguisher, kids put out the fire, which are flames painted on a window.
More important than the competition, though, are the lessons. All kids then get to crawl through a smoke rescue building fille
d with billowing fog. This, Snyder says, is the key to his show; teaching children what to do in case of an emergency at their home.
"All the kids have fire drills at school. You need to have a little fire drill at home so the kids know what to do and where they’re going to go," Snyder says. "If they go away from our show with something the spurns the safety message to their parents, we’ve done something good."
Snyder's Firefighter Training Show is held between the York Fair Administration Building and the Kiddie Kingdom.