Firefighters urge prevention during school visits

Published 5:00 am Monday, October 4, 2004

Firefighters are visiting schools and hosting tours of thestations this week in recognition of the national Fire PreventionWeek.

Although Oct. 3-9 is nationally observed as Fire PreventionWeek, Brookhaven Assistant Fire Chief Bob Watts said they would beparticipating in activities throughout the month.

“There are simply too many schools and day care centers here forus to get to all those interested in a week’s time, so we’ll bevisiting them or they’ll be visiting the station throughout themonth,” he said.

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The week’s activities began today when approximately 65 childrenfrom 3-5 years old from the Easthaven Day Care Center came to thestation. Students from the First Baptist Day Care Center arescheduled to visit the station Wednesday.

The fire truck will travel to the Juvenile Rehabilitation CenterThursday to give children there fire safety tips.

Later in the month, approximately 70 students from EnterpriseAttendance Center kindergarten classes will visit the station Oct.14 with a Boy Scout troop making a stop there Oct. 20. Kindergartenclasses from Faith Presbyterian Church will visit the station Oct.27.

The last scheduled event is Oct. 29, when approximately 76students from Loyd Star will tour the station, he said.

“We’re still getting calls so we’ll probably be doing that and alot more throughout the month,” Watts said.

Whether children visit the station or the truck comes to them,the most important element to the activity is stressing firesafety, Watts said.

In Lawrence County, Fire Chief Wayne Harrison agreed.

During the visits, Harrison said, the students are taught tostop, drop and roll if fire catches them and to understand thefamily’s or school’s emergency evacuation plan.

To drive home his point, Harrison said he tells the children totry an experiment – go into the center of their bedroom, turn offthe lights, spin three times, close their eyes and try to get outof the room.

“You really don’t know your bedroom like you think you do,” hesaid. “If something happens, you can be easily confused. Peoplethink fire is a lot of light, but its actually very dark with allthe smoke coming down – even during the day.”

According to the fire chief, safety is especially important forLawrence County children this year because incidents involving firehave increased.

“Monticello has had more runs this year than we have ever had.And it’s countywide, too,” he said.

Most of the increase is in grass fires caused by dry conditions,Harrison said, but the number of house fires appears to haveincreased also. Most of the house fires have been accidental.

He said children from Monticello Baptist Church Day Care arevisiting the fire station tomorrow and firefighters will take thetruck to Monticello Elementary School Thursday to spark students’interest.

Some Monticello Elementary students visited the station lastweek for a tour because they would not be able to participate inThursday’s activities, Harrison said.

“That’s all we have so far,” he said. “We’re hoping someteachers or other day care centers will get in touch with us toschedule more visits.”

Harrison recommended adults check their fire alarms at leastmonthly.