The department has invested in special teaching tools that are engaging and fun for kids, but which also offer unforgettable and important lessons that could literally save lives.
If your kids come home talking about playing in or escaping from a smoke-filled clubhouse, there’s no need to worry—they were actually learning something that could help them survive a horrible situation, should it ever occur.
The “clubhouse” is actually a small replica of a house with a living room, kitchen, and bedroom which is handicapped accessible.
According to City of Hazelwood communications coordinator Tim Davidson, a few kids at a time are guided through this trailer and shown how to avoid fire hazards.
When they get to the top floor in the bedroom area, light non-toxic “smoke” is released to simulate a fire and the kids are taught to “Get Low and Go” by crawling to safety on their hands and knees, Davidson said.
At the end of the simulation, firefighters meet the kids in the patio area and help them down the ladder.
House of Hazards
If your big kids come home from school prodding you about changing the batteries in your smoke detector or finally installing that CO2 detector you’ve been meaning to put in, take note—they’re sharing lessons they’ve learned from their local firefighters.
Older students are treated to a special classroom demonstration called “House of Hazards,” during which Hazelwood firefighters ask them to identify the fire hazards that are in each room.
Firefighters teach the students how to get rid of hazards and make their environments safer, followed by a discussion on the importance of smoke detectors, fire extinguishers and CO2 monitors.
Sometimes a Week's Not Enough
While firefighters everywhere often reach out to the community during Fire Prevention Week, Hazelwood firefighters are taking it one step further.
“Our fire department plans to visit 10 daycare centers and preschools, as well as two public and two private elementary schools during the week-long national observance and throughout the month of October,” said Hazelwood Fire Department Battalion Chief Randy Getz. “We also give presentations to businesses, civic groups, senior adult organizations, and scout troops just to mention a few.”
Getz added that anyone interested in having Hazelwood firefighters come out and do a program on fire safety can schedule it by calling (314) 731-3424.
History of Fire Prevention Week
According to Davidson, Fire Prevention Week was a national public safety observance established to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, which took place on October 8-9, killing more than 250 people, leaving 100,000 homeless, and destroying more than 17,400 structures.
In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson issued the first National Fire Prevention Day proclamation. Since then, the National Fire Prevention Association has sponsored this week-long event on a yearly basis, making it the longest running public health and safety observance on record.