Outreach spreads message of fire safety

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Shauna Allen rolled out two lengths of fire hose in front of eager third-graders at Winstead Elementary School.

“I am here to help you be safe at home,” Allen told them in a program last month.

Allen is the life safety educator for the Wilson Fire/Rescue Services.

“As small as we are, the city of Wilson went to 4,167 calls last year,” Allen said.

Allen, a 17-year veteran of the fire service, tells the students that she used to ride on the fire truck.

“We are trained to do those things so we can save, you, you, you and you,” she said, pointing to everyone in the gymnasium.

Holding a smoke detector, Allen asks the children if they know what it is, what it sounds like and why they have them in a home.

Part of the program includes having firefighters come in to join in the presentation.

“Let’s just look at them. Aren’t they bad? Aren’t they cool?” Allen asked, after four uniformed firefighters arrived at the gym. “I’m proud of these guys right here.”

Allen tells the children it is important for their family to have a plan in the event of an emergency and to pick a place in the yard like a tree or a mailbox where all of the family members can meet if they have a fire and have to escape the home.
“I need for everybody to get out,” Allen told them. “We would be sad if anything would happen to anybody.”

One of the firefighters got dressed into his turnout gear, and Allen explained each piece of the suit.

The firefighter, Joe Henry, came out to the classes and shook the hand of each child.

“One of the main reasons that we outreach into the schools is to reach our new young leaders,” Allen said. “One day they will be adults. At this age here, they might stay at home by themselves, so why not build an awareness of what to do until we get there?”

Allen said she loves the outreach programs of the fire department.

“The more schools the better,” Allen said. “The more kids the better.”

“Overall, children at this age may stay at home by themselves while their parents work. Having a baseline of what to do in an emergency instead of just panicking will help prevent injury,” said Allen, a 1995 graduate of Beddingfield High School. “We have a plan on what we are going to do once we get there. But we want to empower our children to know what to do until we get there for help.”

Allen said the children usually respond positively to the message.

“I try to make it fun but still a learning session so when they do get home they have the tools to help their parents,” Allen said. “We hope that they take these messages home to their parents and reinforce with their parents what they learned here.”

Caroline Parker, a third-grade teacher at Winstead Elementary School, organized the visit.

“October is Fire Prevention Month, so I thought it was appropriate to have them come do a show about fire safety and how they can be prepared for it in their own homes,” Parker said. “I just want to know that when my kids leave my care, when they go home, they have been educated. They can tell their parents. They can feel comfortable and knowledgeable enough so that if something were to happen, they know how to respond.

“We are very, very thankful at Winstead to have the pleasure of having the fire department come out to see the kids,” Parker said. “They have known for two weeks, and that is all they have talked about.”

At the end of the program each child received a little red firefighter hat.