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Teaching students to 'be fire smart' and safe

Dell Sprecher, fire inspector for the West Fargo Fire Department, shows the equipment on the fire trucks to Kim Jacobsen's kindergarten class.1 / 3
Fire Inspector Kendel Frost explains to Jacobsen's class what he has to wear when going to a fire emergency call.2 / 3
Abraham Beske, left, and Drew Birrenkott, right, listen to a presentation by the West Fargo Fire Department.3 / 3

"Stay Fire Smart - Don't Get Burned" is the message that will be repeated over and over again to approximately 600 kindergarten students from the Early Childhood Center and Osgood as they pay special visits the next couple of weeks to the West Fargo Fire Department in observance of National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 4-10.

In the process, they will learn how to stop, drop and roll, procedures to follow for getting out of the home or building in the event of a fire, hear about when to change batteries in smoke detectors, as well as discuss several other elements related to fire prevention, safety and awareness.

Fire Inspection Officer Kendel Frost and Assistant Fire Chief Dell Sprecher will be providing the tours at the fire station, located at 108 1st St., with part of the time also spent showing off and explaining the fire gear and some of the equipment and trucks. Sparky the Fire Dog Robot, the department mascot, will also be making special appearances throughout the presentations, sharing his own special safety message.

Once the tours have concluded, Frost and Sprecher will spend the next three weeks visiting the entire first, second and third grade classrooms in the West Fargo School District, including the three first grade classes at Osgood.

These presentations will differ for each class grade - featuring movies and discussion focusing on fire safety, as well as learning about fire department gear, including air packs.

Frost said the sessions will point out the importance of changing batteries in smoke detectors at least twice a year, with the recommendation to do it at the same time you change clock batteries - remembering 'spring forward' and 'fall back.'

Frost added that all the programming is very well received by the students, who are encouraged to share the information at home with other family members, a suggestion obviously well taken because he has received several calls at the station from parents who said they were impressed because their kids came home and encouraged them to check the batteries in the smoke detectors to make sure they were working.

"It's a very important message we put out to kids to stay safe, stay calm, and not to hide if there is a fire," Frost said. "If they can come away knowing their smoke detectors are working and that they should get out of the house and call 911 that is a very important lesson." Frost added the plan should also include an outside meeting place.

Frost enjoys working with the youngsters each year because they are so eager to learn. On that note, he has been recognized by his peers as the recipient of the Public Fire Safety Award for the year 2008 as presented by the North Dakota Fire Prevention Association.

Frost encourages everyone to take a few minutes to address fire safety by checking each smoke detector positioned throughout their homes to insure they are operational and working properly; or if any are lacking, to make sure they are properly installed in correct areas:

Sound rules of advice include:

*Installing a smoke alarm outside each sleeping area and on each additional level of your home;

*Using the test button to check each smoke alarm once a month;

*Replacing all batteries once a year;

*Vacuuming away cobwebs and dust from your smoke alarms monthly;

*Replacing your smoke alarm at least every ten years because they become less sensitive over time;

*Purchasing and learning about a fire extinguisher;

*Considering installing an automatic fire sprinkler system in your home.