Gainesville Daily Register

October 6, 2011

GFD program promotes fire safety

By Heather Pilkington, Register Staff Writer
Gainesville Daily Register

Gainesville — Gainesville Fire Department firefighters jump started Fire Prevention Week early with a presentation geared towards the 3 and 4-year-old students at the Gainesville Independent School District’s Head Start campus, Wednesday.

During the program, each class spent time indoors with Captain Randy Prestage, Brent Ivie and Kenneth Watson learning the importance of fire safety.

“We teach them 9-1-1 green or 9-1-1 send; stop, drop and roll and how to crawl low if there is smoke in their home,” Prestage said.

While the students were inside learning the important information they needed to know when calling for an emergency, fire fighter Brent Ivie put on his bunker gear to help teach the students that firefighters are their friends, not someone they should be scared of.

“It is wonderful for the students to see the fire fighters in a school setting,” Head Start principal April Waggoner said. “So if there is ever an emergency situation they (the students) can recognize the firefighters are there to help.”

“This helps them not to be scared of us,” Gainesville firefighter Jason James said. “Often times these kids put us up there with the monsters under their bed and this program helps get that idea out of their head.”

After the short presentation inside, the students when out side to meet firefighters Battalion Chief Shane Lee, Jason James and Dane Tatum.

There each student took a turn with a firefighter spraying water from the one inch hoses attached to Brush Truck #3.

“For this age group we try to gear some very basic safety message crawl low in smoke; stop, drop and roll; and 9-1-1,” Lee said. “Because they are so young to keep their interest, we let them spray a little water and always we get great feedback from it.”

After every student had their turn, the firefighters gave each student their own fire hat before their special surprise. Sparky the Fire Dog met with each class.

“The guys were so good with kids,” Waggoner said. “They built a rapport with the little ones and were able to communicate at their level.”

Next week Gainesville Fire Department, will celebrate Fire Prevention Week and host their Fire Safety Program at St. Mary’s Catholic School, Thomas Edison Elementary School, W.E. Chalmers Elementary School and Robert E. Lee Elementary School.

“During these programs the department will be using the Flame Outs,” Lee said. “The Flame Outs are Clowns, who develop a skit and a program each year. This years theme will be Pirates of the Caribbean. We deliver these messages in a fun and educational environment geared to their age groups.”