By Michele Vowell, Fort Campbell CourierSeptember 28, 2015
FORT CAMPBELL, Kentucky -- While cooking bacon in her oven recently, Fort Campbell Fire Inspector Wendy Leo inadvertently filled her kitchen with smoke -- setting off the smoke detector.
Her 3-year-old daughter heard the alarm.
"I wasn't planning a fire drill at that exact moment, but I turned the oven off, grabbed my children and we went outside," Leo said. "[My daughter] knew immediately [what the alarm sound meant] and she's only 3 years old."
As a post fire inspector, Leo is passionate about sharing the lessons she has learned with Fort Campbell students. She and Fort Campbell Fire Department officials began sharing safety lessons as part of the installation's official Fire Prevention Week observance, Sept. 21-25, 2015. Although the National Fire Prevention Week is Oct. 4-10, the post recognizes the week early because of the installation schools' fall break.
"We show the children what to do if there's smoke in the house -- how to get down low and get out of the house and get to a meeting spot," Leo said. "We don't want them to be afraid. This is a learning experience and let them have a little bit of fun."'
To teach these lessons, the fire department brought the smoke trailer and fire trucks to Barkley, Lincoln, Barsanti, Lucas and Jackson elementary schools. The fire department team hopes to educate roughly 1,500 students during the weeklong event.
On Wednesday, about 400 kindergarten through third-grade students at Barsanti Elementary School climbed into the smoke trailer designed to simulate how to escape from a real fire.
Before entering the smoke trailer, fire inspector Dave Harwell quizzed the students.
"What number do you call when you see smoke?" he said.
"9-1-1!," the students shouted before entering the mobile house structure.
Inside the trailer, David Land, fire inspector, explained the importance of smoke detectors in their homes. "Hear the Beep Where You Sleep" is the theme for this year's National Fire Prevention Week. Families are encouraged to test smoke detectors once a month and change the batteries when Daylight Savings Time changes to standard time, which is a 2 a.m. Nov. 1 this year.
Land also explained the importance of developing an exit plan from their homes in case of a fire.
"What I'm going to talk to you about is very serious business," he said. "You've always got to have two ways out. If we … touch the door and it's hot because there could be a fire on the other side. We need to go out our second way out. We need to go out the window."
To exit out of a burning house, Land shared some advice.
"We're going to have to get on our hands and knees and crawl out. That's because the smoke is up here. That's bad air. The good air is by our hands and knees," he said. "That's just like the firefighters. Even though they have air tanks, that's the best place to be -- on our hands and knees."
Kindergartener Niklas Ward said he followed Land's directions to escape from the smoke trailer.
"I crawled really fast," he said.
Ward's classmate Grace Kolb said she saw the smoke in the trailer, but said proudly, "I wasn't scared."
After exiting the smoke trailer, the students reported to the safe place -- a mailbox across the parking lot.
There, Leo praised them for their participation and gave them some homework -- to practice a fire drill with their Families.
"I always give them homework -- after dinnertime, they practice a fire drill," Leo said. "We are hoping the kids go home and bother their parents until they do a fire drill."
After touring the smoke trailer, Barsanti students learned more about a pumper fire truck from Fort Campbell firefighters Jonathan Grainger, David Eads and Sonny Rosario as part of the day's events.
"There's close to 1,000 gallons of water stored inside," Eads told students. "You have a milk carton -- there's like a thousand of them inside this truck. So we have plenty of water no matter what."
Rosario showcased the protective coat, helmet, gloves and air tank used in fighting fires.
"It's very heavy and protects from the fire," he said. "It's fire resistant. It's just like an oven mitt."
Eads assured his young audience that they should not be scared of firefighters dressed like Rosario or police officers in an emergency situation.
"If you see Mr. Rosario inside, you go ask him for help," he said. "Don't be afraid of him, OK?"
After an overview chat about the hoses, tools and emergency medical equipment stored on the fire truck, many of the students were invited to take a seat in the vehicle.
"I like the fire truck," Ward said. "I like the hose. It throws water out."
Fire Prevention Week ends Friday with a free community movie night at the Village Commons at Hammond Heights, 3065 Forrest Road. The event, co-hosted with Campbell Crossing, starts at 5:30 p.m. The evening will include a few short fire safety videos before the showing of Disney's "Planes: Fire and Rescue." A fire truck will be on display and two bikes will be raffled off through a partnership with Army and Air Force Exchange Service. Participants should bring their own blankets and chairs.
Although the fire prevention week activities end Friday, Leo said the fire safety and prevention skills should be practiced all year long
"We are always preaching -- practice fire safety every day," she said.