“What does smoke do?” intones firefighter/EMT Chris Raffelson to a class of attentive second graders at McDermoth Elementary School as he holds up a fire alarm. “It goes up in the air.”
Raffelson, a member of the Aberdeen Fire Department, was one of the AFD personnel tasked with bringing the good word for Fire Prevention Week to the schoolchildren of Aberdeen.
Fire Prevention Week marks its 100th anniversary this year, according to the National Fire Prevention Association.
“It’s good to get involved with the community,” said Mitch Housden, whose job with the department is to coordinate many of the community fire prevention efforts, including Fire Prevention Week. “(The kids) bring it back home and that’s a big plus.”
Bringing that knowledge home and refreshing half-forgotten lessons is part of the benefit of having these events in schools, Housden said. The department will also meet with homeschooled students for the first time this year, Housden said.
“What are we going to do? We’re going to go home and practice,” Raffelson says to the combined second grade classes. “We’re going to teach our parents everything we just learned.”
The second graders get lessons on avoiding smoke inhalation, getting out of burning houses, checking for fire hazards, fire alarms, alerting the house and family rendezvous points, while the kindergartners get a more stripped-down version, focusing on fire alarms, stop-drop-and-roll and the difference between toys and tools, such as lighters.
“The biggest thing you have to teach these kids is when the smoke alarm goes off, get out of the house,” Raffelson said.
The department is hammering the lesson on designating family meeting places following an evacuation this year, Housden said. Designated family meeting places, where adults can rapidly account for all members of the family, can save firefighters time searching for missing family members.
The AFD is partnering with Domino’s Pizza in Hoquiam for a Fire Prevention Week promotion on Tuesday, where randomly selected people ordering pizza between 5 to 7 p.m. will have their pizza delivered by the AFD. If their smoke alarms are working, their pizza will be delivered free of charge. If their alarms aren’t working, the AFD will replace their batteries or alarm.
State Farm agent David Steinman is also partnering with AFD, Housden said, helping to provide kits with fire safety stickers and information for schoolchildren. State Farm has long partnered with fire departments nationally for Fire Prevention Week, Housden said.
“(State Farm) is really good at working with us,” Housden said. “They got back quick.”
For more best practices or fire prevention information, check out the National Fire Prevention Association at nfpa.org.
— Contact reporter Michael S. Lockett at (757) 621-1197 or email@example.com.