Mantua – Recently, over 400 Crestwood Primary School students from Mrs. Marlow’s Pre-K classes through Mrs. Jones and Ms. Ludlow’s second graders learned basic fire safety tips during Fire Safety Month. In this annual program, students heard timeless fire safety basics, like when you see or smell smoke, you need get out; if you’re in a fire, get down & stay down; and if you happen to catch fire, stop, drop, and roll.
To drive home these basic ideas, however, Lieutenant Brooke Stamm and Firefighter Jerod Holtzman helped kids participate in special kid-friendly drills. For instance, to learn how to safely escape a fire’s harmful smoke, classes learned to stay low, where oxygen is more prevalent, by crawling under a table draped with a smoky-looking tablecloth. Students also had the chance to demonstrate how they could safely put out a clothing fire by dropping down and rolling back and forth until the yellow, orange, and red felt ‘flames’ that were affixed to their shirts via static electricity, were ‘extinguished’ on the floor.
Kids also had the chance to ask important questions, like what a smoke detector does and why they are so loud. They were given age-appropriate responses, “It sniffs for smoke,” and “In case it goes off when you’re sleeping, so you can wake up and get to safety.” Kids were also directed to find two ways out, in case one exit was impassable. While several kids were excited about the idea of exiting a window, Lt. Stamm made sure to tell them that exiting through a door should always be considered first.
As you would expect, most children knew to call 911 in case of an emergency. But Lt. Stamm took it a step further, urging kids to practice reciting their address so that if they need to call firefighters or police, kids can tell them where to come and help. As Lt. Stamm spoke to the children, Firefighter Holtzman donned his gear.
In simple terms that kids could understand, Lt. Stamm explained why each item was used, so that kids would know what to expect and wouldn’t be afraid or hide, in the event of an emergency situation. As Firefighter Hotlzman crawled amid the students in his special gear, including special jacket, protective helmet, and a mask to help him breathe, kids saw the gear close-up. They weren’t a bit scared, even though the mask distorted his friendly face and made him sound a bit like Darth Vader when he spoke.
But it wouldn’t be school if students didn’t get homework. Their homework, they were told, was to practice saying their address, and to check their smoke detectors at home. After their lesson, students went outside for the chance to check out an ambulance and fire truck.
According to Assistant Fire Chief Matt Roosa, the MSFD has taught fire safety in the schools since the 1960s, when Village School students walked to the former Fire Department facility on Main and High Streets. Since the early 1980s, the Department has marked Fire Safety Month by visiting schools to discuss fire safety basics and help children become more familiar with firefighters and their gear.