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Firefighters stress preparedness to students during fire prevention weeks

MADISON – City students are learning survival tips and exit plans from the Madison Fire & Rescue Department.

Madison firefighters explain the Safehouse to Madison students. (CONTRIBUTED)
Madison firefighters explain the Safehouse to Madison students. (CONTRIBUTED)

“We visit all elementary schools for fire prevention weeks” over six weeks, starting in September, Fire Chief Ralph Cobb said.

“Working closely with the schools and individual PTAs, we discuss the importance of fire safety and how having an escape plan can keep their family safe,” Capt. Russ Kennington said.

Firefighters tailor discussions to age groups. For younger children, they concentrate on safety plans and “why it’s important to not get scared and hide,” Kennington said. Older children learn about playing an active role in fire safety at home by checking smoke detectors and setting good examples for siblings.

“We let students see our guys in their full gear so they’re not scared if we have to get them in a fire,” Kennington said.

Each child can visit the Safehouse, a state-of-the-art trailer that demonstrates how smoke reacts in the home and how to “stay low and go” by crawling to see and breathe. They discuss family plans for one meeting place and confirming everyone has exited the house, eliminating firefighters entering dangerous situations needlessly.

The Safehouse’s video cameras show what’s happening inside with displays on external monitors. Kennington and emergency manager David Glassman run the Safehouse.

Wearing full equipment, the engine company in each school district visits to show the fire truck. “PTA volunteers are critical in coordinating several hundred children through the educational process,” Kennington said.

Firefighters are proud when students can answer questions about fire safety. “Our goal is to not just hold this session,” Glassman said. “We’re very happy to see the kids recall the lessons we taught them.”

Firefighters stress prevention’s importance and dangers of matches, lighters, candles and cooking. “When prevention fails, we want them to understand that working smoke detectors and staying low can (help) escape a fire. We’ll place our personnel in high risk to save someone trapped in the house,” Kennington said.

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