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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.”

Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Chief Joshua Wells tells St. Thomas More students of the burn hazard of cooking pot handles protruding from the front of a cooktop at a school fire safety program Oct. 10. Story and additional photos on Page A7. Press Photo by Jim Marsh
St. Thomas More School students watch WSVFC firefighters use a hose line and an aerial ladder deluge nozzle during a school fire safety program Oct. 10.
Noah Waterman, a custodian at Lehigh Christian Academy at the Cedar Crest Bible fellowship Church along Cedar Crest Boulevard, steps in to continue a school fire prevention program when WSVFC Chief Joshua Wells must cut short his presentation to answer a fire call. Waterman is an Eastern Salisbury Fire Department firefighter who often responds to daytime fire calls with WSVFC on the west side of the township.
PRESS PHOTOS BY JIM MARSH Youngsters are never too young to learn about fire safety. WSVFC Chief Joshua Wells outfits a youngster in youth fire gear at a fire prevention program Oct. 12 at the Lehigh Valley Hospital's day care center.
Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company Chief Joshua Wells shows a group of home-schooled students the volume of fire and rescue equipment carried on the fire company's aerial ladder truck during a fire safety program Oct. 13 at the department's Eisenhower Station.
Eastern Salisbury Fire Department crew members Megan Fries and Leighna Takacs demonstrate the “stop, drop and roll” technique used to help subdue a fire on a person's clothing. The demonstration was part of a school fire safety program Oct. 17 at Salisbury Elementary School.
Dressed in full firefighter protective gear, Eastern Salisbury Fire Department crew members Leighna Takacs and Megan Fries circulate among young students at Salisbury Elementary School during a fire safety program Oct. 17 at the school. The demonstration is to help youngsters see a firefighter transition from everyday clothing to firefighter gear. “They are still the same person, but they look and sound different,” WSVFC Chief Joshua Wells said. “It's very important you not be scared and hide if they have to come to your house. Firefighters are always your friend. They are there to help you,” Wells told the young students.
Salisbury Elementary School students get up-close views of equipment from Eastern Salisbury Fire Department and Western Salisbury Volunteer Fire Company during a school fire safety program Oct. 17.