Volunteer firefighters take fire safety message to St. Thomas More School
Several Salisbury volunteer firefighters took time off from work or other activities to take their annual fire safety message to preschool and elementary students in local schools.
"The message does not vary too much from year to year," Western Salisbury Fire Department Chief Joshua Wells said. "But our department has been going into the schools during Fire Prevention Week in October for a number of decades.
"We have brought our program to children who are now adults and have children or grandchildren in our schools," Wells said. "With our relatively low incidence of serious fires in the township, we believe that a fire safety mentality is having an intergenerational effect that builds on itself."
Wells stressed the importance of never using lighters or matches as playthings, urging parents to stage home fire drills, change the batteries in smoke detectors twice a year when the clocks change and teach children how to dial 911 to report a fire emergency.
"Remember '911,' but don't ever dial the number just for fun," Wells said. "You may take a 911 operator away from someone who really needs help and the police may show up to ask why you called the number and hung up."
Wells said fire companies now urge separate smoke detectors be placed in every bedroom to provide early warning of fire or smoke. Wells sounded a smoke detector alarm so students can recognize the distinct beep pattern reserved only for fire alarms.
At each school a firefighter in street clothes donned the bulky protective attire which provides a level of safety for firefighters carrying out inside firefighting tactics.
Getting up close to the children, having them touch the turnout gear, or give "high-fives" to the friendly firefighter reinforces firefighters are there to help. "You should never hide from a firefighter because he looks or sounds scary with his gear in place."
The 2012 Fire Prevention Week program message is "Have 2 Ways Out."
Wells urged the youngsters to discuss and practice two alternative escape routes out of rooms in a home.
The National Fire Protection Association reported in 2010 home fires were reported every 85 seconds somewhere across the country with more than 2,600 people losing their lives and more than 13,000 injured in fire-related instances.
A brochure provided to every student pointed out "when a fire strikes, your home could be engulfed in smoke and flames in just a few minutes. It is important to have a home fire escape plan that prepares a family to think fast and exit quickly when a smoke alarm sounds."
"Leave immediately" Wells told the students. "Don't stop to call for help. Get out and stay out. Never go back for any reason. Go to your predetermined outside meeting place so everyone is accounted for. Once you're safely outside, call the fire department from a neighbor's house or on a cell phone."
Weather permitting; students had an opportunity to see firefighters discharge water from a hand line and from a deluge nozzle on the top deck of an engine.