Firefighters reach out during National Fire Prevention Week

Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Preschool students from St. Paul's Lutheran School have an opportunity to look inside an ambulance at Concordia's fire station while they learn what firefighters and emergency workers do, in addition to some fire prevention skills. (Sarah Reed/The Concordian)

Three year olds got a different perspective of a popular room in the house Thursday morning after they learned some new tips about kitchen fires at the Concordia fire station.

"Prevent Kitchen Fires" was the theme of this year's National Fire Prevention Week, observed Oct. 6-12. Concordia Fire Protection District joined fire departments nationwide to draw awareness to the issue.

Thursday, Martha Brown's preschoolers from St. Paul's Lutheran School skipped into the station as young students, and left with a little more expertise on safety.

"Young children use all of their senses to learn," Brown noted. "I believe it is important for them to see firemen up close, be able to touch their uniforms and talk with them so that if any of them are ever in a a situation where help is needed, they will not be afraid."

Volunteer firefighter Mitchell Dittmer climbed into his suit for just that reason, while firefighter/EMT Brian Woods instructed children to yell for help in the event of a fire.

Concordia firefighter Mitchell Dittmer puts on his suit, allowing young students to see what fire rescue equipment looks like. Young children are sometimes fearful of full fire rescue suits, so this demonstration helps them become familiar with the gear. (Sarah Reed/The Concordian)

Prior to touring the station and climbing through a fire truck, students were entertained with a video explaining what items could be hot, such as ovens, candles, running bath water and boiling pots. But they also got active.

Dittmer and Woods led the class in practicing "Stop, drop, cover and roll." Some shied away, but many practiced the procedure of dropping to the floor, shielding their faces from smoke and rolling to put out a fire.

According to the National Fire Protection Association, more fires start in the kitchen than anywhere else in the house. Cooking is reportedly the leading cause of home fires and home fire injuries, followed by heating equipment. In 34 percent of home cooking fires, unattended cooking was a factor according to the association.

Following Brown's class, firefighters also met with remaining preschool classes Thursday morning. They'd also organized presentations at Concordia Elementary School and St. Paul's Lutheran School for later last week.

For Brown, the presentation illicited further learning, which is what CFPD officials hoped for the week.

"Showing the class the DVD about fire safety in the home, talking and allowing them to hear a home smoke detector alarm, and practicing crawling under smoke ... are great openers for us to continue learning about it in the classroom," she said.

Editor's note: Daylight Saving Time ends in less than three weeks, and is an optimal time to test the batteries in your smoke detectors. Smoke alarm and other alert devices are available for those who are hard of hearing or deaf, and often include the use of strobe lights.

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