Children learn how to live safer lives at summer camp

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 13, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

&uot;Get Out! Stay Out!&uot; That was the message recently to several children at the White Marsh Road Fire Station.

The children, ages seven through 13, were participants in the Suffolk Fire Department’s &uot;Fire and Life Safety Camp,&uot; and with all the hands-on training they received, they are now better equipped to prevent and survive a home fire.

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Pam King, public education and fire and life safety specialist for the fire department, said the kids all did exceptionally well with the safety program. It is in its third year with a total of 63 children now armed with fire safety knowledge. Each child who completes the training is presented with a certificate by Suffolk Fire Captain Jim Judkins.

&uot;They really enjoy the training and it is something that will stay with them the rest of their lives,&uot; said King. &uot;The great thing is that they take all this information home to their families and friends. They even learn to identify potential fire hazards in their home and also about the dangers of playing with lighters and matches.&uot;

Children who attended were provided with lunches at the firehouse and a special camp T-shirt.

They rode on fire trucks, used fire hoses streaming jets of water across a grassy field, and they made their &uot;escape&uot; from the Fire Safety House. They also met a drug detection dog that demonstrated his skills.

Kids participating in the safety camp learned how to promote their own personal safety, as well as that of their family and community, through numerous activities combining teaching and imagination. They even learned how to create an escape plan that could save lives in the event of a home fire.

King, who wears more than a firefighter’s hat, is also the head of the department’s &uot;Juvenile Fire Setter&uot; program. She is responsible for teaching young children who cause fires about the consequences of their actions.

&uot;Parents have called us many times to ask for help with their child… usually after they’ve set a fire,&uot; said King. &uot;Two years ago, we noticed that the number of fires of this type is on the rise. We have not had a fatality and our mission is to avoid that tragedy.&uot;

King added that with the Juvenile Fire Setter program, children and their parents can be referred to a judge if the child is age 11 or above. However, under that age, King takes them under her wing at the fire station to place them in an intense program of education.

&uot;We explain the dangers of fire because children do not think of the consequences of their actions,&uot; said King. &uot;Currently, we are working with a child who set a fire at Cogic Square last week. In that, a 5-year-old child was playing with one of the illegal lighters, the kind with no safety switch, and he managed to set his bedroom on fire. He and his mother escaped but the bedroom was a total loss.&uot;

King said that any parent who would like to learn more about the Juvenile Fire Setter program or the next Fire and Life Safety Camp may call her at 923-2573.