Little Firefighters: Poplarville Fire Department teaches children about fire safety
Published 7:00 am Wednesday, October 26, 2016
As children anxiously awaited the arrival of uniformed men driving bright red trucks, Poplarville Fire Chief Jonathan Head crouched down to their level to teach the youngest members of the community about fire safety.
The Poplarville Fire Department made their rounds last week to the local elementary and preschools for their annual Fire Prevention program.
At this age, Head said his main goal is to make sure children know that firefighters should not be feared, but are there to protect and keep them safe.
Since beginning the program, Head said the department has seen a reduction in the number of house fires.
“We’re switching from reactive to proactive,” he said.
The department’s efforts continue to save lives and property in the Poplarville area, Head said.
At Poplarville Upper Elementary, “they presented information [students] can use in real life situations to help them stay safe,” Principal Lynn Payne said. “We think it’s very important; it’s the reason we take time to do that for the children.”
The students were very excited when they saw the red trucks pull up and the firefighters get out in full uniform, Payne said.
“By the time they’re in third grade they were more excited to see them than anything else,” he said.
While speaking to the older children, Head and other firefighters discussed the importance of staying in school because they “need to get the knowledge to be able to do different things,” Payne said.
However, the fire department also taught students the importance of thinking ahead.
“Things can get out of hand really fast,” Payne said.
Head taught them the importance of not putting themselves in danger or creating a situation in which a problem could occur, Payne said.
On Friday, four Poplarville firefighters interacted with a Pre-K students at Kreative Kingdom Christian Learning Center in full turnout gear to help the children feel more comfortable around them while wearing masks and breathing gear that obstructs their face, Head said.
During fires, at times children can be fearful of the firemen when they enter their home, uncertain of who they are, Head said.
While telling the kids about the importance of having an escape plan for their house, just like the ones they practice in school, firefighter Camron Ladner slowly put on his full firefighting suit as Head described each piece of equipment so the children understood each item’s purpose.
After Ladner was in full uniform, the kids each came up to give him a high-five showing that they weren’t afraid.
Before lining up to go outside to see Poplarville’s Fire Engine 3, the children sang some of their favorite firefighting songs.
Head said these programs are important because it helps teach kids to be safe around household items that get hot like a stove or heater, and to be careful with anything that is flammable, like matches.
Head’s presentations become more detailed when he talks to older children.
The program has been very successful over the past nine years, Head said, adding that he hopes to continue that success and maybe even recruit future volunteers.