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Showing their love: Firefighters teach kids safety lessons

McDuffie County firefighters are committed to helping school children understand the dangers of fire, and word of their public education classes is spreading.

firekids1.jpg

Javari Kitchens gives fireman Joe Vines a hug to show he isn't afraid of the fireproof suit.

Although children from McDuffie County have had the benefit of the classes for two years, other counties are starting to send their school children so they can learn important fire safety information from Ed Lewis and his team.

"Schools really want their kids to understand fire safety," said Mr. Lewis after a group from Lincoln County visited last month.

The sessions are about an hour, and cover a range of topics all geared toward the age of the visiting children. During a recent visit from McDuffie County Head Start children, firefighters covered several important areas.

"We talk about the dangers of matches and lighters," Mr. Lewis said. "We educate kids on ways to prevent fires."

"We also show them what we look like in a (protective) uniform. We tell them not to hide from us. We are your friend," he said.

The protective uniform, which covers the firefighter from head to toe and features a complete face mask and a heavy oxygen tank, can be frightening to young children.

firekids3.jpg

Kevin Perry demonstrates the CPR mannequin.

To introduce them to the uniform and allow them to see it is just a helpful fireman all dressed up, children watched as Joe Vines donned the heavy outfit piece by piece. After he was fully covered, carrying an extra 50 lbs. in equipment, he invited the children to come up for a closer look. Many children inspected the uniform then gave hugs to show they weren't intimidated.

Mr. Vines spoke to the children, showing them how his voice changed while wearing the mask and helped them see it was not frightening.

"When you see me (during a fire), what do you do? Do you hide? No! I'm here to help you," Mr. Vines said.

"Don't ever run back into a closet. Don't go back for your baby doll or your Nintendo. You can buy more of those. You can't buy another you," Mr. Lewis stressed to the group.

Teacher Dorothy Samuels said the class was very useful for the children, and provided a chance to reinforce some skills they had covered during this month's fire prevention unit.

firekids2.jpg

Children peek inside the fire truck.

Some of those skills included learning numbers and dialing 911, understanding the "stop drop and roll" maneuver, and practicing how to crawl underneath smoke in case of a fire.

Especially useful was the opportunity children had to socialize with the firefighters and see them as helpers.

"We tell them to have a fire safety plan at home. Someone will be waiting to help them in case of a fire," she said.

Sachet Woods, 5, took the lesson to heart and says she knows what to do.

"I learned to get out of the house when there's a fire. Don't stop to get your toys," she said.


firekids4.jpg

Students are invited to come closer and inspect the protective fire suit.




Web posted on Thursday, January 27, 2005











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