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franklin county times

RFD shares safety lessons

With cooler temperatures on their way, members of the Russellville Fire Department know that usually means an increase in fires since residents will be breaking out the heaters and utilizing fireplaces to stay warm.

With that in mind and in preparation of National Fire Prevention Week, which will be observed nationally Oct. 7-13, the RFD visited West Elementary School this past week to discuss fire safety and prevention.

The event is something the RFD participates in each year in conjunction with the Alabama Forestry Commission in an effort to educate young children about the importance being safe when it comes to fire, both indoors and outdoors.

The fire officials brought the county’s fire safety house to the school to show children first-hand what fire hazards look like and to teach them what to do in the event of a fire.

“Its never too early to start learning about fire hazards, what to do when a smoke detector goes off and how to safely get out of a home that might be on fire,” Russellville Fire Chief Joe Mansell said.

“Inside the fire house we have different hazards such as an extension cord under a rug, cigarette lighters, a fire place and an oven. We’re able to show these things to the kids in a safe environment so they’ll know to spot safety hazards in their own homes and tell their parents to remove them.

“Sometimes we as adults can become complacent when it comes to fire safety because we assume we know what we’re doing and then a fire hazard can slip up on us without us knowing.

“By talking to these kids, we can educate them and get them to help spot these things in their homes so everyone can be safer.”

Once the students learn about the fire hazards, they enter a room in the fire safety house where there is a smoke detector that goes off when the room is filled with artificial smoke.

“This is good because it shows the kids what it might be like if their home is really on fire,” Mansell said.

“We show them how to safely get out of the house and then tell them about the importance of having a family plan in place for where to meet outside the home so everyone can be accounted for. Hopefully this knowledge will save lives one day if any of them are ever actually involved in a fire.”

While at the school, firefighters also demonstrated several pieces of equipment used to fight fires and showed the students what they look like when they have all their gear on.

“Our guys look and sound a lot different when they have all their gear on,” Mansell said.

“We show them what we look and sound like so the kids will be used to that and not be scared of us if we ever come to help them.”

Once students had the opportunity to go through the fire safety house and to see the firefighters’ equipment, they listened to a fire prevention program taught by Russellville firefighters and Neal Taylor, a forestry specialist with the AFC.

“We want the students to understand that fire prevention is something they should be aware of outside of the home as well,” Taylor said.

“We try to stress things like not playing with matches outside and to put out their camp fires completely if they go camping.”

The students also received some encouragement to be safe from Smoky the Bear and Sparky the Fire Dog.

“We want the program to be fun, but ultimately we want the kids to take some knowledge away from this,” Mansell said. “The best thing we can do for them is to educate them and hope that knowledge sticks with them through the years.”