By Dawn Hatfield
GREENVILLE — The Greenville Fire Department ignited students’ interest in fire safety this week. Several members of the department shared their knowledge and even school lunches with students at Greenville Elementary School. Capt. Daniel Myers, Lt. Bryan Walker, and firefighters Cody Dirksen and Troy Pearson were present on Wednesday, Oct. 26 to teach students the basics of keeping themselves and their homes safe from fire.
The National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) website reports, “Every 23 seconds, a fire department in the United States responds to a fire somewhere in the nation.” NFPA’s annual report indicates local fire departments responded to an estimated 1.35 million fires in the United States, resulting in 3,800 civilian fire deaths in 2021. This equates to a home fire death every three hours, eight minutes. Teaching students fire safety skills from a young age helps to keep them and their homes safe.
Eager students from Ms. McLear’s kindergarten class filed into the gym and sat cross-legged on the floor where Lt. Walker began a question and answer session. Walker ensured students knew to feel a closed door with the back of their hand to check for heat/fire on the other side. He reminded them that once outside, STAY outside—never go back into a burning building. Students practiced chanting 9-1-1 as the number they should call to report fire.
Walker asked, “Should you call 9-1-1 to order pizza?”
The students responded, “No!” with laughter. They assured him they understood this to be an emergency number only.
Students were even given two homework assignments by the firefighters:
1. Designate a safe meeting place with family
2. Learn home address for calling 9-1-1
Firefighter Dirksen then took his turn teaching students about firefighter safety gear as he donned his uniform. Dirksen showed students how firefighters would look and sound in full uniform, so children would never fear nor hide from a firefighter in action. He explained the suit protects him from the heat of the fire and allows him to help people who may be trapped inside.
Students, of course, would not be wearing suits to protect themselves, so Walker asked, “Does anybody know what to do if your clothes catch on fire?”
Not all the youngsters had an answer.
“If your clothes ever catch on fire, you do NOT want to run—running will make the fire bigger. You should stop, drop, and roll to put it out,” Walker instructed. Each student had the opportunity to practice this potentially life-saving technique and earned a firefighter sticker badge for their efforts.
To end the day, students traveled outside to gather around the department’s largest, 100-foot ladder truck. Each student had their turn sitting inside the fire truck before moving along to the fire hydrant where they met with firefighter Troy Pearson. Pearson helped students wrangle the powerful fire hose even as it sprayed only a minimal stream. After handling the fire hose, students were able to imagine the incredible force it would have at full blast.
The students’ remarkable day of fire safety ended with goodie bags and shiny red plastic fire hats for all.
Jessica Gorman, assistant principal, reported three days of firefighter visits will allow all kindergarten through second-grade students to enjoy this exciting and educational experience.
While fire safety training targets school children, everyone can use a reminder of some quick and easy ways to be prepared. The American Red Cross’s Central & Southern Ohio Home Fire Campaign encourages families to take these simple steps to stay safe:
* Practice a two-minute fire drill
* Test smoke alarms monthly
Do you need a smoke alarm? Call the Ohio Home Fire Campaign at 1-844-207-4509. The Red Cross and its partners can test existing smoke alarms and install up to three free smoke alarms for those who need them.
Contact Daily Advocate Reporter Dawn Hatfield by email at [email protected] or by phone at 937-569-0066.