Volunteers aim to teach fire safety

Published 8:00 pm Thursday, July 26, 2012

     In an effort to promote fire safety and teach children the hazards fire can present, the Wesson Volunteer Fire Department puts on the Fire Academy For Kids every summer.

     The second year of the camp began on Monday at the WVFD on Factory Street in downtown Wesson and runs through Friday, with different activities for children every day.

     WVFD Chief Ken Carraway said the week’s purpose is to teach safety.

     “During the week, we’ll teach the kids about fire safety, smoke detectors, calling 911, not to play with matches, how to draw an escape plane from their homes, fire fighter skills and how to tie knots,” he said.

     Every day this week features different activities the children participated in, ranging from classroom oriented learning to hands on games aimed to teach.

     In one activity Tuesday, the children were shown a video about the importance of having an escape plan for their families in case of fire.

     They then went outside and one-by-one went into a small chamber that was filled with smoke. The child would then open a window from the inside and jump out, simulating what they would do in the event of a house fire.

     Carraway said knowing what to do in the event of a fire is paramount, as fires kill people every day.

     “Just in the past three years, seven people have been killed in fires in Copiah County,” he said.

     Another activity was the two-minute drill, where children put on a firefighter’s gear as fast as possible.

     Friday night a medical helicopter is scheduled to visit and allow the children in attendance to see it up close and take photos.

     Carraway said Thursday night will feature a Copiah County K-9 unit on scene and the combat challenge where children have to stop, drop and roll, squirt water and then carry a hose through a maze until they find their target.

     The combat challenge is something the WVFD does every year at the camp and also at Wesson Founders Day.

     Carraway said this year’s camp has been successful, with about 36 children attending each night.

     “We’ve had some kids being apprehensive at first, but about 30 minutes into it they were having a great time,” he said. “They came back the next day ready to go at it again.”

     This week is a fun week for the firefighters, Carraway said.

     “This is our week as firefighter where we get to interact with kids while not at the scene of a terrible accident or something like that, he said. “We try to take advantage of any opportunity where we get to interact with people in a positive way.”

     The idea for the camp came from the Department of Health, according to Carraway.

     The camp begins with children all taking a pre-test on the first day of camp to gauge their fire safety knowledge, and then at the conclusion of the camp they take it again. Carraway said last year they saw a 38 percent improvement in scores from the pre-test to the post-test.

     The WVFD’s fire safety efforts begin with preschool aged children, as they go to preschools each October with the fire truck to introduce them to firefighters.

     In the spring they go to the library and speak to first and second graders about fire safety to further familiarize them with fire safety.

     The camp then takes in children aged 7 to 13 to continue to drive home the idea of fire safety.

     “We try to start with kids when they’re younger so they can grow up with it,” said Carraway.

     Carraway also said they’re working on starting a program to work with high school juniors and seniors to promote the idea of not drinking and driving and to keep them safe.