Regional firefighters are teaching elementary students about fire safety and burn prevention this week and next. (Sheri Regnier photo)

Kootenay Boundary firefighters bring life-saving fire safety skills to elementary students

Schools team up with local fire departments for Fire Prevention Week

The set of a model house was filled with mock props and movie smoke at Glenmerry Elementary School early Tuesday.

But the message from regional firefighters to the young minds rang true and clear: “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and Practise your Escape.”

Previous: A matter of life and death

Teams from Regional District of Kootenay Boundary Fire Rescue set aside time every fall to visit elementary schools throughout Greater Trail to educate children from Kindergarten to Grade 4 about fire safety.

“This is a national program that’s been going on for a long time,” Captain Glen Gallamore told the Trail Times. “We get into the schools to teach kids, early, how to be fire safe. We also want to drive home a message for parents to check their smoke detectors, and to come up with a fire safety plan,” he said.

“So in the event there is a fire, everyone can get out safely and meet somewhere so when we arrive, we know that everybody is out of the house. Or, if someone is missing, we know right away,” Gallamore emphasized.

“We are starting them early so if there is a fire or emergency in the house, they know what to do.”

The two-storey house-on-wheels the firefighters bring to the schools is outfitted with bunk-like beds and a window to escape from “upstairs” as well as doors leading down a set of stairs to the outside.

There’s also a small kitchen set up to show the dangers heat can cause, such as pot handles sticking out from the stove, an iron left on, a toaster with a frayed cord, and a stack of papers left beside a lit element.

Captain Jason Langman says the station’s fire and burn prevention lessons begin in the classroom with the youngest children.

While the message is serious, the firefighters try to keep some of it lighthearted with a video. They also bring in the heavy equipment, including respirators, and suit up in front of the class.

What can happen in a real-life fire, is that young children may be scared of a firefighter in full gear and they may hide under a bed, for example.

Demonstrating how a firefighter will appear and sound during a real fire, can help prevent this fear and save lives.

This year’s Fire Prevention Week theme of “Plan and Practise your Escape,” zeroes in on the fact that in a typical home fire, there may be as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds.

Escape planning and practise can help make the most of the time in a real-life event and give everyone enough time to get out.

The annual safety campaign is sponsored by a number of provincial emergency services including the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Association Burn Fund and the BC Fire Training Officers Association.

“Bringing the important message of fire and burn prevention into your community’s schools and classrooms helps to save lives and prevent painful burn injuries and lifelong suffering,” the campaign states.

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Captain Jason Langman shows the “top floor” of the model house, used to instruct children how to escape fire.

Captain Jason Langman teaches kitchen perils to the students, such as a frayed appliance cord.

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