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Matthew extends annual safety program | News | The Press and Standard

by | November 5, 2016 5:00 am

Last Updated: November 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Hurricane Matthew caused a reorganization of the month-long Fire Prevention and Life Safety Education programs in the county’s schools
The annual program began on Oct. 3 but needed to be rearranged due to Hurricane Matthew and the heavy flooding in the area. In addition, schools were closed for a week and a half, pushing the activities in to November.
The program actually runs throughout the year with presentations and demonstrations for all age groups, but a concentrated effort to teach the younger school-aged children coincides with National Fire Prevention Week during October.
With the large number of students and schools involved, Fire-Rescue’s program is stretched out over the entire month to reach all public and private elementary schools in the unincorporated areas, as well as the pre-schools and day care centers.
Fire-Rescue Battalion Chief Richard Sheffield and Capt. Michael Banks of the Fire Marshal’s Office coordinate the activities which start with pre-kindergarten. A different program is presented to each age group, with more information added each year to reinforce the fire safety message.
Children learn how to call 9-1-1, give accurate information to dispatchers and how to safely exit their homes. They learn and practice Stop, Drop and Roll, seatbelt use, general home safety and how smoke alarms operate.
Patches, a robot Dalmatian who drives his own miniature fire truck, interacts with the students, asking questions and helping firefighters review the topics contained in the program.
Second-graders enjoy a skit developed by Sheffield and presented by firefighters. In the skit, a firefighter plays the part of a child and performs acts that are not fire safe. The school children have to yell out “STOP”, every time they discover something that is wrong. Following the skit, Sheffield, Banks and other firefighter-paramedics review the safety message with the students.
Second-grade students also participate in a countywide coloring contest. Students are given a 10-question Fire Safety Test and then color the picture on the opposite side. Those who answer all of the questions correctly are then judged on the picture. The winner is awarded a new bicycle and helmet in November. Two runners up receive a gift card.
Third grade students tour the Fire Safety House and receive a complete review of all of the information they have received over the past several years. The Fire Safety House is a small replica of a residence containing three props: a living room with a fireplace, a kitchen and a bedroom. The students are taught about fireplace safety, the correct use of the 9-1-1 emergency telephone system, kitchen safety and the proper way to exit a building during a fire. Breathable smoke is used to simulate a fire and the children get to exit the second floor using an escape ladder.

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