Firefighters educate children during Fire Prevention Week
Jim Ussery, Fort Rucker firefighter, teaches the students at Fort Rucker Primary School to not be afraid of firefighters in their firefighting uniforms during an event for Fire Prevention Week at the Fort Rucker Primary School Oct. 12.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (October 18, 2012) -- Fort Rucker fire prevention officials along with the Fort Rucker Fire Department educated the installation on the importance of fire safety during Fire Prevention Week Oct. 6-13.

The Fort Rucker Fire Prevention Office teamed up with the Fort Rucker Fire Department to reach out to the community by handing out pamphlets at the post exchange and giving presentations at the schools on the installation, said Ronnie Stallworth, Fort Rucker fire prevention inspector.

"We came out [to the primary school] to support Fire Prevention Week and teach the kids all about fire safety," said Frank Compton, Fort Rucker firefighter. "We want to teach them not to be scared of the firefighters if they ever have to come into their home."

Compton said that children can often be scared of a firefighter that is dressed in his full firefighting uniform, and that the interaction with firefighters in their full uniform helps to alleviate some of those fears.

"A firefighter is always there to help," he said. "If a child is scared of a firefighter, that child might hide and it can make our job much harder when we're trying to find them. In a situation where a child might be trapped, they should shout, holler and do what they can to help us find them."

The theme for Fire Prevention Week this year on Fort Rucker was "Have two ways out," said Stallworth.

"This means, aside from the main entrance of a room or building, people should have a second exit, like a window," he said.

Katie Condon, kindergarten teachers at Fort Rucker Primary School, said that Fire Prevention Week came at the perfect time for students to interact with the firefighters since her class had just learned about community helpers.

"It's great for them to be able to see [firefighters] in real life," she said. "The children have been learning about how to stay safe during a fire, practicing fire drills and learning how to stop, drop and roll, so it's really great for them to learn this from the firefighters."

Condon said that it's important for children to be taught these lessons at a young age because fire doesn't discriminate.

"This is something they need to know," said the kindergarten teacher. "Just because they're little doesn't mean they don't need to be educated on it. It's information that everyone should know and you've got to start young."

Compton agreed.

"Fire prevention education should start as young as you can imagine," he said. "If you start teaching them at a young age, the information will become more instilled in their minds as they get older."

Although the firefighter visit was educational for students like Preston Chambers, pre-K student at Fort Rucker Elementary School, it was also a good experience just to see a fire truck.

"I learned that when there is an emergency, you shouldn't hide from the firefighters, but my favorite part about the fire truck was the ladder because I liked how it goes up and down," he said.

The visit to the schools is one of the most successful ways that the Fort Rucker Fire Prevention Office reaches out to educate the community, said Stallworth, but it's largely up to the people on the installation to know their fire safety, he added.

Stallworth offered tips for people to be able to remain safe such as making sure to check outlets, never leaving appliances unattended when in use and knowing their escape routes in case of a fire.

"Each facility on Fort Rucker has their own fire escape plan and people should make sure they are familiar with their specific plan," he said. "I also recommend that people practice their plan at least once a month."

Page last updated Thu October 18th, 2012 at 11:27