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Students across the county learn about fire safety



Since the beginning of this month pre-school and first through third grade students have been learning about fire safety the fun way. On Monday, members of the Colleton County Fire/Rescue visited students at New Hope Christian School near Island to meet with the students. On Tuesday, children from Bethel Methodist Week-Day School visited the Fire Station #27 on Hampton Street.

 Every October, members of Colleton County Fire/Recue service travel to all of the public and private schools in the county as well as several daycare centers.  The children range from three year olds to nine years old.

  Most of the schools followed the same program with minor variations, depending upon the size of the group and the ages of the children. For the most part, however, this is how the program occurred:

 Pre-Kindergarten, Kindergarten, andfirst grade students viewed a 15-minute fire prevention movie. Then, a firefighter asked questions about the movie and gave instruction concerning fire safety, said Fire/Rescue Captain and Fire Marshal Richard Sheffield. The safety-related information the emergency personnel spoke about concerned:

  •  Smoke Detectors and how they “smell smoke.”
  •  “Crawling low” under the smoke to get out of a home.
  • Feeling the bedroom door for heat and knowing another way out, such as climbing through a window, if the door is hot.
  •  Not hiding “under a bed” or “in a closet” if a house fire occurs.
  •  Having a pre-designated “family meeting place” outside of the house.
  •  To never go back inside a burning house, no matter what.
  •  The importance of calling 9-1-1 during any emergency situation.
  • “Stop, Drop, and Roll,” instruction on not panicking if clothing catches fire, but to get stationary, drop to the    ground, and roll around to extinguish the flames.
  • To never to play with matches or lighters.
  • Turning the cold water on first in the bath tub, then adding hot water to avoid possible burning.

The fire/rescue personnel used a unique robotic tool to teach the children about fire safety. “Patches & Pumper” is a fully animated Dalmatian Dog and fire truck robot combination, and the robot can move, speak, listen, play audio cassette tapes, wink, and blink, all by remote control. As this little fire dog speaks, his mouth moves in synchronization with his words.

The Patches & Pumper device is used with great success in our county’s school classrooms, assemblies, station tours, and can also be used at events such as mall exhibits, state and local fairs, and any other setting where a safety message is being presented.

Patches & Pumper is the right size for teaching children because it can talk with them at their level. This fire prevention robot also maneuvers easily in school classrooms and other restricted areas. Patches’ friendly, furry face fairly radiates a positive image to all while he steers Pumper around the room. His headlights, taillights and flashing warning lights make him highly visible. Patches comes onstage accompanying fire/rescue personnel to aid in a question and answer period during the event.

Patches is also available as a hand puppet for teaching smaller groups, and there is also an entire line of available educational materials that will keep prevention messages in the minds of the children long after they leave safety programs. Coloring books, crayons, pencils, bookmarks, certificates, badges, magnets, and more are available.

 At New Hope, a child was chosen to dress up like a firefighter in a small set of firefighter gear to show all of the children that “firefighters are your friends” and that “we are not there for anyone to be afraid of,” Sheffield said. He added that the firefighter then got into his fighter gear to show as a comparison.

Finally, the children went outside to see the fire truck

 Second graders also saw the 15-minute movie. After that, an interactive skit was performed by firefighters.

As the skit progressed, whenever the “child” (a dressed up firefighter) in the skit did something that was “not fire safe,” the children in the audience yelled out for him to “STOP.” Then the narrator asked what is wrong and how to correct it. Next, the children went outside to see the fire truck.

 Third graders got a different kind of show. The Fire Safety House was brought to the schools for each class to have a tour. It is actually a portable camper trailer that is set up as a small house with a living room, kitchen and bed room. All fire safety tips are gone over within the three rooms. Each room also has the capability to have “fake smoke” enter the room so that the children can practice getting out.