The line snaked past the gutted home and into the street. Seeing is believing, and about 800 eager New Zealand residents saw an eyeful when they finally made their way past the home's front door. There were charred remnants of a home once inhabited by a family of three. Signage throughout the structure pointed to its damage ("note the black staining of the glass") and the stove where it began ("fire started here"). The show and tell was an ingenious way for Fire and Emergency New Zealand to underscore fire's wrath by having residents get close to its aftermath.
The event's overwhelming turnout proved it was a hit with the public and safety advocates trying to promote fire prevention in new ways. "We see this as a really, really good opportunity to show people the damage after a house fire and to reaffirm preventative measures as well as talk to people about smoke alarms and an escape plan if they have a house fire," Craig Chambers, Fenz Mid-South Canterbury fire risk management officer, told the Timaru Herald.
The event also brought fire statistics to life. As is the case in the U.S., cooking is the leading cause of home fires in New Zealand. The family who had lived in the home left a pot of oil unattended, which sparked the fire, reports the Timaru Herald. The fire's flames and smoke destroyed all of their belongings.
If there's a home impacted by fire in your community that's safe enough for a walk-through, please consider taking a similar approach as our New Zealand friends and open it up to the public. Here are photos of the event: