Kids learn firsthand about fire safety (+VIDEO)The River Falls Fire Department visited all local elementary schools during Fire Safety week in October, bringing with them exciting and memorable props like the fire-safety house, Pluggie the talking fire hydrant, a big red engine and more.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
The River Falls Fire Department visited all local elementary schools during Fire Safety week in October, bringing with them exciting and memorable props like the fire-safety house, Pluggie the talking fire hydrant, a big red engine and more.
Firefighter and safety program coordinator Pauline Williams said each grade receives a different level of education.
When the children reach 2nd and 3rd grade, they tour the fire-safety house, learning what to do in case of a fire at home.
First, a loud beeping alarm sounds and non-toxic, fog-machine smoke fills the small structure and billows out the windows. Some kids emerged coughing and saying the smoke was scary.
Most said it smelled like maple syrup -- others said cotton candy or cinnamon.
While inside the house, firefighters teach kids, for example, to feel doorknobs for heat, look for smoke under doors and find two ways out. The students practice escaping from a second-story window and climbing down a ladder to escape to their safe-meeting place.
The firefighters give a program appropriate for each grade level, bringing props and talking to them about different things.
For example, kindergartners get to ride in a fire truck and learn about not playing with matches and fourth graders compete in a poster-drawing contest in which the first prize is going to school in a fire truck.
Second and third graders tour the fire-safety house. Many kids hear from “Pluggie” the talking fire hydrant -- other curriculum includes videos and cartoons.
Sometimes the program includes dressing a teacher in firefighting gear so the kids can see how a firefighter in uniform looks. Each year the previous year’s lessons are reinforced and new ones introduced.
Outside the fire-safety house last week, firefighter Scott Gavin counseled the kids who toured the house to quickly get to their safe-meeting place and never -- under any circumstances -- go back into the house for anything including people, pets or favorite toys.
Gavin explained to the kids how that work is the Fire Department’s job, telling them, “Once you’re out, you stay out.”