Children learn various safety measures from firefighters

Published 6:57 pm Thursday, July 17, 2008

A week-long camp at the Picayune Fire Department is teaching children important lessons about fire safety, the dangers of strangers and what it’s like to be a firefighter.

On Wednesday, the 27 children in the Fire Academy Kids camp, the first of its kind in Picayune, learned from firefighters how to use, roll and unroll a fire hose. Picayune Police Department Officers also came to Fire Station One to tell the kids about making the right choices, how to avoid strangers and the importance of wearing seatbelts.

This if the first year the Picayune Fire Department has held the camp, said Training Officer Barry Lee. The week-long camp also teaches children about “stop, drop and roll,” how to use a fire extinguisher and how to safely escape a burning home.

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To train the children on extinguisher use, Lee said the department set up a small fire in a controlled environment and let the children use a fire extinguisher to put out the small flames.

Each afternoon when the children go home they have homework to help them become safer around the home. Homework included working with their parents to establish an escape plan during a fire and ensuring their smoke detectors are operational, Lee said.

Every day the children also got to participate in craft time. Wednesday, the children were given a white hat and markers so they could personalize their own hat.

Later that day the firefighters set up a fire in their training house. The children were able to watch firefighters roll up in fire trucks, get on their gear and enter the “house” to pull a dummy from the burning building before extinguishing the flames.

At the end of the week the children will take part in a graduation ceremony where they will receive a certificate of participation.

Next year the department hopes to expand the camp to two weeks. The second week will cater to older children with a more advanced curriculum, Lee said.

“That’s kind of our plan or goal, to (teach) 30 or 40 (kids) each week,” Lee said.

Each day the children are treated to a snack and lunch before they go home.

The experience has been an enjoyable one for Lee and he hopes the children will remember what they learned at the camp and that it will enable them to save a life one day if they find themselves in a fire.