Firefighters visit Lincoln Elementary to give lessons on fire prevention

October 13, 2018

GERING — Oct. 8-12 was Fire Prevention Week, so members from the Gering Volunteer Fire Department visited Lincoln Elementary to discuss fire safety and prevention.

On Thursday, the firefighters visited Emily Rose’s and Judy Land’s preschool classes. While the students have practiced fire drills, the firefighters demonstrated what they should do if they are in a room full of smoke and are looking for a way out.

Firefighter Jamy Lawson brought a box of items that the students had to determine if it was a tool or a toy. From a lighter and matches to a small toy and a wrench, the students discussed how each item is used and the importance of notifying an adult if they come across a lighter or matches at school or home.

Following the activity, Lawson asked the students what they should do if their clothes catch on fire — stop, drop and roll. After the students demonstrated their stop, drop and roll techniques, they grabbed their coats and made their way outside to look at the fire trucks.

The firefighters lifted the students up into the large fire engine as the students looked around and smiled out the windows. Fire chief Nathan Flowers took each class for a ride in a 1948 American LaFrance. Flowers said the fire truck is completely original, but they have done motor work. Since the LaFrance has been out of service, the Gering Fire Department has used it for educational purposes. It is still capable of pumping water. As the class rode around the block, Flowers turned on the siren and the students waved at their teachers as the left and returned to the school.

Preschooler Madison Zitterkoph said her favorite part was “getting in the fire truck and riding in it.”

Firefighter Dominic Williams also put on his fire gear, so the students could see what he looks like when he goes into a building during a fire. The students didn’t think Williams looked scary in his gear and talked about how the material is fire resistant. As the students felt Williams’ fire gear, Lawson told them not to be afraid of the firefighters.

“If there is smoke in your house or even in the school here, but especially in your house, don’t hide from us,” Lawson said. “Don’t hide in the closet or under the bed because that makes it harder for us to find you.”

Williams demonstrated crawling on his hands and knees if there is smoke in the room. As he approached the door, he used the back of his hand and rubbed the door to see if it was hot. If the door is hot, then that exit is unsafe and they should use another door to exit.

“The main thing is when you’re feeling the door is you don’t want to use the front of your hand,” said Dick Cochrane. “You want to use the back of your hand because you have all the feeling in your fingers and you don’t want to burn your fingers.”

When smoke squeezes through the bottom of the door, the firefighters advised the students to roll up a blanket and place it under the door to stop the smoke.

Lawson has been involved in visiting schools during Fire Prevention Week for 24 years.

“I like working with the kids,” he said. “That’s probably my favorite part of being a firefighter and being a part of the fire prevention in schools.”

From all the topics the firefighters discussed in the classroom, Lawson hopes they take one thing home, whether that’s stop, drop and roll, crawl low or not playing with matches. He also wants them to stay safe.

As part of fire prevention week, the students received plastic, red firefighter hats, which they thought were cool.

Lawson, Williams, Cochrane, Ashley Maschmeier, Chris Perales Jr. and Flowers participated in the visit to Lincoln Elementary.

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