Kids learn fire safety

Published 10:13 pm Tuesday, October 16, 2012

You’re never too young to learn — especially when the lesson is how to avoid fires and what do if one does occur.

Students at North Suffolk’s Creekside Elementary School were all ears when city firefighters paid them a visit Tuesday.

October is National Fire Prevention Month, and Capt. John Rizzatti, engineer Jerome Freeman and medic Jeff Matthews, from Suffolk Fire and Rescue’s Station 5, were only too happy teach the children a thing or two.

At Creekside Elementary School Tuesday, kindergarteners Dylan Robb and Andrea Osorio Navarro learn about fire prevention and awareness, and get to try out some cool equipment, with Suffolk Fire and Rescue Station 5’s John Rizzatti, Jeff Matthews and Jerome Freeman. Wearing the coveted firefighter’s jacket is school Media Specialist Kim Hobson Richardson, who coordinated the visit.

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“Do you play with fire? … Do you play with matches? … Do you touch matches? … Lighters?” Matthews asked. “No,” a kindergarten class replied in unison.

“If you all need us for help, is there a certain number you can dial?” Matthews asked again. “Nine-one-one,” most of the kids replied.

Rizzatti said outreach to schools is an “extremely important” job for Suffolk Fire and Rescue workers.

In the last 10 years, public education fire-awareness programs have “helped decrease the fires that we have had … and helped with the ability for children to understand, if something does happen, what they are meant to do.

“Lives have been saved in the process.”

When the captain asked Creekside children what do if they catch on fire, “Stop, drop and roll” was the welcome answer from one little girl.

Rizzatti had a student demonstrate the maneuver, to the delight of his classmates, while Rizzatti also reminded the children to cover their faces if they ever have to perform it in real life.

“When you stop, drop and roll, take your hands and put them over your face; cover your face … the reason we do that is because we don’t want the smoke or the fire to get into our lungs,” he said.

The children were asked if they had fire escape plans for their homes. Most answered in the affirmative.

“Make sure you tell your parents to check smoke detectors every time the clocks change — fall back and spring ahead,” Rizzatti said.

If caught in their room during a fire, the children were told, “you want to close your door and go to a window … never, never, never hide, because we can’t find you if you’re hiding.

“If you can open the window, stick your head out and yell … You want to stay as low as possible to the floor … If your window doesn’t open, that doesn’t matter, I promise you I’ve got tools that will open it.”

The firefighters brought goodies to educate about fire awareness, including coloring books, pencils, stickers and information booklets. Firehouse Subs provided each child with their very own plastic firefighter’s hat.

Trying on the fire protection gear worn by firefighting men and women was an exciting opportunity for Dylan Robb and Andrea Osorio Navarro, as well as for educator Kim Hobson Richardson, Creekside’s media specialist.