Lifesaving lessons taught

Published 10:45 pm Monday, October 4, 2010

Selma firefighters help teach important fire safety tips to children at Southside Primary School Monday. Joining the firefighters in teaching the children the "Stop, Drop and Roll" dance was Sparky the Fire Dog. -- Laura Fenton photo

Fire prevention assemblies led by the Selma Fire Department are anything but boring.

“I’ve looked up different fire prevention things on the Internet and most of the time it’s real dry,” said Capt. Tim Watson. “The firemen just come and talk to the kids and it’s real boring. They may have someone come out in costume and he’ll just stand here and wave, and that’s it.”

But Watson and several firefighters integrate silly skits between information so children will better remember the messages, Watson said.

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He and the other firefighters will travel to all the Selma City and most Dallas County schools to entertain and educate students about fire safety.

In the programs, students learn the basics of fire prevention, such as staying away from matches or a cigarette lighter; what a smoke detector is and what it sounds like; what to do if a detectors goes off in the home; how to stop, drop and roll; how to crawl instead of walking upright and to create a meeting place outside of the home.

Capt. James Murphy dressed as a grandmother and a little boy Monday at Southside Primary School, preforming in skits to teach children of the technique for crawling when leaving a room when the fire detector sounds and that any matches or lighters should be given to an adult so they can place them in a safe spot.

“They want me to put up the matches, so I’m going to put up the matches,” Murphy said as a child handed him a large box of matches in a grandma skit. “Make sure that you get an adult. You tell your mama, your daddy and your grandma, OK?”

Watson also held up large cards with drawing of a stove, matches, heater, fire place, crayons or a ball and children yelled either “stay away” or “safe for play,” depending if the item is something they can use or something only adults should use.

The presentations are in October because the first week of the month is fire safety week.

“Fire prevention week is the first full week in October, but we have so many schools that our fire prevention stretches out for the whole month,” Watson said.

Southside student Jaiden Geeter, 7, laughed the whole presentation but believes he will be able to remember the information easily.

“It was very important,” Jaiden said. “I learned that you stay away from fire. You should not play with fire or use it for any other things. It can probably burn you.”

Southside student Jamarion Blevins, 7, has first-hand experience with fire safety. He alerted his family when he discovered a fire coming from a bed in one of the rooms at his home on Aug. 12. Using the information he learned at the fire prevention program the year before, everyone was able to leave the home safely.

The presentation was a review of information for Jamarion, but he still listened intently “because it might happen,” he said. “It might really happen.”

Since the department began in 2002, about three of the fires reported are the result of children knowing proper fire safety.