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Firefighters prepare home-schooled children for emergencies

Monday, October 26, 2009

Kathy Parks

Firefighters from Huffman Volunteer Fire Department held an educational program for home-schooled children at the May Community Center Oct. 22. Kevin J. Guillot, fire chief at Huffman VFD brought a fire truck, firefighting gear, give-aways and several firefighters, including: Lt. Clay Leonard, Lt. Dustin Simon, firefighter Lee Webster and probationary firefighters Jason Weller and Justin Partridge, and probationary auxiliary member Marty Giles. The program is designed to help children and their guardians know where each child stands in their ability to recite their home address, dial 9-1-1 and know which location outside the home is the family’s emergency “safety spot.” “In an emergency, it is important that each of you go quickly to the spot you’ve agreed on, so adults will know everyone has made it out of the house,” said Guillot. The chief told children that in an emergency, it is important to let firemen rescue pets, rather than attempt to do so themselves. He said that the loud beeping of an alarm often causes pets to hide and firemen have special training that helps them find pets quickly. He told them as soon as firefighters arrive, they should tell them the pet is still inside. The most dramatic demonstration was when the firefighter donned his firefighting gear, changing their connection to the children in the audience. The firemen talked about Halloween and the way costumes worked. They compared the respirator to the sounds made by Darth Vader from Star Wars. Guillot explained that the air pack on the firefighter’s back was just like the air packs used by scuba divers on vacation. He talked about the gloves, boots and jackets, and showed the children how they were likely to get their first glimpse of a rescue worker, close to the floor on all fours. A firefighter crawled in and out of the students’ chairs, on all four, and gave each child he passed a friendly a high-five. Even with the carefully planned introduction to the firefighter in gear, it was surprising that not every child was willing to touch the firefighter’s glove. Guillot reinforced the idea that children had nothing to fear and reminded them how important it was to go with the firefighter if he comes for them. Also covered in the program were tips on how to recognize a tornado. Children were told to listen for a train sound and if they heard it, they were told to seek shelter in their hall or bathroom. Guillot said these are small, sturdy areas away from glass. He advised them to climb into the tub or get under their mattress. The chief cautioned students about the dangers of playing with matches and lighters. He said he considered most of the heat-activated room fresheners to be potential fire hazards. “I know most of the girls like the smell of candles, but they are never safe on any shelf or sconce. Candles need more depth than a shelf provides because the vapors they release can ignite,” said Guillot. “It is safe to place a candle on top of the TV, as long as you watch it. Night lights are safe because they are electric and designed to absorb heat.” When the fire alarm suddenly sounded, guests at the program participated in a mock fire drill. Those previously given cell phones dialed 9-1-1 and the tallest boy in the room held the exit door open until everyone evacuated. Children and their parents lined up outside for further instruction. “The old standard,’stop, drop and roll’ has been revised. If your clothes begin to burn, we now teach everyone to stop, drop to the ground, cover their face with their hands and roll to put the fire out,” said Guillot. Children were taken on a tour of the fire truck and learned how the “jaws of life” are used to remove people trapped in a vehicle. Each child received a fire-prevention goody bag and a plastic firefighter’s hat. Huffman VFD serves the community with a variety of programs, including a Junior Firefighter Program. They will also be participating in the Huffman Christmas Parade scheduled for Dec. 19. Station 1 is located at 24141 FM 2100 in Huffman. For more information, visit Photos: (Top) Huffman Volunteer Fire Department Fire Chief Kevin Guillot instructs home-schooled students on fire prevention and fire safety. (Bottom) Fire Chief Kevin Guillot shows home-schooled students what a suited-out firefighter looks like, in hopes they will not be afraid to receive a firefighter’s help in an emergency. Photos by Kathy Parks

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