Plum fire chiefs spread prevention message
By Karen Zapf
Published: Wednesday, Oct. 10, 2012, 9:01 p.m.
Education saves lives.
Fire chiefs in Plum see the results of the educational programs they conduct during October designated by the Federal Emergency Management Agency as Fire Prevention Month.
“I've heard of instances where a child heard a smoke detector go off and alerted family members to get out of the house, and they (children) are trained to call 911 when there is a fire,” said Unity Volunteer Fire Department Chief Jeff Currie.
Volunteer firefighters from Plum's departments each October take the opportunity to educate children in Plum about fire prevention as well as what to do in the event of a fire.
The National Fire Protection Association's theme for fire prevention month is “Have 2 Ways Out” emphasizing the importance of designating more than one route of escape from a fire.
Plum's departments travel to schools, day care centers, the YMCA and even a farm to get safety tips out to children.
“We see in excess of 700 children a year during the month of October — from the smallest day care facility to our two district elementary schools (Adlai Stevenson and Holiday Park),” said Holiday Park Volunteer Fire Department Chief Larry Glass.
“The children enjoy it. They take the information we teach such as exit drills and where to meet once you have exited your home to share with their families.”
Members of the Renton Volunteer Fire Department plan to hand out firefighter helmets, coloring books and brochures from noon to 6 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays during October at the Mallisee Farm on Mallisee Road.
Renton assistant Chief David Bender said the most important message for children is to know their exit routes in the event of a fire and have a meeting place outside for family members.
“We also teach the children to know their address if they call 911 and ‘Stop, Drop and Roll,'” Bender said.
Glass said Holiday Park department volunteers spend an hour with each class during a fire-prevention session.
The volunteers show children a fire-safety video, demonstrate the “Stop, Drop and Roll” method to extinguish a fire on a person, have a firefighter don gear with breathing apparatus to show children how a firefighter looks upon entering a home in the event of a fire.
The appearance of the firefighter can be frightening to some children.
“After one of the volunteers dons gear and breathing apparatus and actually sits in the middle of the floor and talks to the kids, letting them feel the clothing and seeing what it's all about, the kids have a sense of what a firefighter looks and sounds like if we should have to enter their home in the event of a fire,” Glass said.
The children also get an up close look at a fire truck.
The departments also conduct open houses at the fire stations for the general public.
Each of the departments budgets between $1,000 and $2,000 annually for the fire prevention programs.
Karen Zapf is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-856-7400, ext. 8753, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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