Salisbury firefighters return to township school to promote youth fire safety
Salisbury volunteer firefighters were back in township schools earlier in October to promote fire safety to elementary school-age students.
The schools visits are an annual event provided by the firefighters to help students understand how to avoid fire incidents and what to do if they occur anyway.
Principal presenter in the school programs has been Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Chief Joshua Wells, who has become a familiar face to students from preschool to fourth grade.
There has been enough overlap as students rise through the elementary grades that the youngsters often anticipate Wells’ lessons. When asked who to call in an emergency, the youngsters are ready with their “call 911” response.
When asked what to do if a smoke alarm goes off in their home, students respond loudly, “get out and stay out.” When asked if lighters and matches are cool to play with, they respond with a big “no.”
When asked what to do if your clothes catch fire, the response is “stop, drop and roll.”
Wells insists working smoke alarms should be in every bedroom and gives students “homework” to check for the devices in their homes.
Every year firefighters assisting in the programs transition from street clothes to full protective “bunker gear” and air packs to crawl among the students so they can see and hear what it would be like if a firefighter comes to rescue them.
“It’s important these youngsters know firefighters are ‘their friends’ and they should never be afraid and hide because of the appearance of a firefighter in full gear,” Wells said. Student response to the up-close encounters with the crawling firefighters is enthusiastic “high-fives” all around.
Since cooking safety is this year’s National Fire Prevention Association fire safety theme, Wells provided practical ways the youngsters could help keep themselves safe in the kitchen. He used a cooking pot to illustrate how a pot handle protruding over the front of a stove could lead to a scald or burn if a youngster accidentally brushed or pulled on the pot handle.
Wells used a pot lid to demonstrate how to put out a cooking pan fire.
“The lid will rob a fire of oxygen and the fire will go out,” Wells said.
At each of the township schools, the outside demonstration of fire hose lines and aerial ladder deluge nozzles provide the “ohhs and ahhs” and loud approval by the youngsters. Many of the youngest line up to hold a hose nozzle and spray water “like a firefighter.”
“It’s not just our school-age youngsters that look forward to Fire Prevention Week each October,” Wells said. “For our volunteers, this is something we all enjoy and anticipate. It’s so much more positive for us to show up when we are not responding to an emergency situation.”