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Students learn fire safety techniques

Kindergarten students in the West Fargo School District learned a firsthand lesson this last week as a precursor to Fire Prevention Week being observed Oct. 7 through Oct. 13 nationwide. Working off the theme "Practice Your Escape Plan," West Fargo Fire Department officials versed approximately 600 children on fire prevention, safety and awareness as to how they should react and escape in the event of a fire.

Kindergarten students from all the schools in the District were treated to personal tours of the fire station, located at 108 1st St. E., conducted by Assistant Chief Dell Sprecher and Fire Inspector Kendel Frost.

The discussion focused on fire safety tips, like not playing with matches; stop, dropping and rolling in the event of fire; talking about changing all the batteries in smoke detectors at home; as well as discussion in several other related areas. Sparky the Robot, the Fire Department mascot, also paid the students a visit.

Fire Department officials will continue the education process by visiting first, second and third grade classrooms in the School District. First graders will be entertained by Sparky the Robot, reinforcing fire safety education; second graders will be treated to a movie and a talk on fire safety; while the third graders will see the same movie and learn about fire department gear and what it is used for in an actual presentation.

Sprecher said that it is important for everyone to have an escape plan and practice it regularly so that the entire family knows what to do in the event of a fire. It should also include a place to meet once outside.

Statistics show that if a fire occurs there may only be as little as two minutes time to escape. Having an escape plan in place that has been practiced will save precious moments and make it more likely that occupants of a home will be able to get out alive.

The American Red Cross is also observing National Fire Week and offers simple safety tips for people to observe that correlate with the message presented by Sprecher and Frost at the West Fargo Fire Department.

To prevent fires:

*Never leave burning candles unattended;

*Keep fuel (clothing, bedding, paper) at least three feet from heat sources;

*Instruct your children to leave matches and other fire-starters alone;

*Consider the dangers of alternative heating sources; half of all households with children under age 18 use alternatives like fireplaces, space heaters, and wood or coal-burning stoves, which are a danger to children and a risk of fire.

To stay safe in case of a fire:

*Create an escape plan;

*Practice the plan at least twice a year;

*Install smoke alarms and escape ladders;

*Replace smoke alarm batteries at least once a year;

*Purchase and learn about a fire extinguisher.

Sprecher said that the sessions each year with the students provide an excellent opportunity to reinforce fire prevention and safety. "They really seem to enjoy it. And we are getting excellent response from parents who appreciate the information the kids are bringing home. They say it is really nice to be reminded about the importance of changing batteries in smoke detectors and having other fire prevention information reinforced."