For the past month, the students at Belington Elementary School have been participating in extra classes. These are not your normal "reading, 'riting, and 'rithmatic" classes, but are geared toward helping to save lives.
Lt. Matt Ryan of the Belington Volunteer Fire Department has taken time out of his schedule to teach four different fire prevention classes. Ryan says that he does it for the peace of mind, knowing that these kids have been educated in fire prevention measures.
"The past couple of events in the area have been a real eye opener," he said. "What I'm teaching these kids today is about real life scenarios. It's not just something that I've pulled out of a textbook."
The Inter-Mountain photo by Sara Harris
Belington Elementary students enjoy hands-on experience with fire trucks.
The latest class was held Monday in the cafeteria of the school for grades third through fifth. Approximately 150 children were in attendance. Ryan was joined by fire fighters Matt Kittle, Charles Mcmannis and Samuel Harris.
Some of the topics discussed included "stop, drop and roll," seatbelt safety and the importance of smoke detectors. Ryan told all of the students to go home and check their smoke detectors. Smoke detectors save lives, and they work 24/7, as long as the battery works.
BVFD has partnered with businesses in the area to make sure that every child in school has a smoke detector in their home. Papers were sent home with children at the beginning of October. If they did not have a smoke detector, the in-school program would provide them with one.
Children were also encouraged to always wear their seatbelts and if they are riding in the car with someone, they should tell others to wear their seatbelts also. It doesn't matter if you are going on a 400-mile vacation, or just down the street to the grocery store, they were told - always wear your seatbelt.
The firemen also talked about the gear that they wear and how it is designed to keep them safe. From the shape of their helmets to the reflective strip on their pants, everything has a purpose.
All of the students paid attention to what they were being told and even had the opportunity to ask questions. Some of their questions included, "Is it hot inside your jacket? Have you ever lost a fireman in a fire? What if someone crashes into the water? How long are your trucks?"
Children were able to get some hands-on experience as they were allowed to actually go through the trucks and saw the Jaws of Life in person.
The children also saw the tools that firemen use, such as flashlights, axes, and a special camera that is able to detect heat in a dark room. Ryan explained to the students that just as the tools they use have a special job, there are other tools such as matches and lighters. Calling 911 is another tool. These tools should never be played with.
The students learned that it is very important to know where you live. If they should ever have to call 911, they need to know how to tell the rescue team how to find them. Precious time can be wasted if the department has to drive up and down the road to look for them.
They were told to never go back into a burning building to get anything or to get a pet. Have a meeting place, somewhere away from your home, for everyone to be together while waiting for help to arrive. The students were told to go home and talk to their parents about an escape plan.
Heat and smoke rises, so the children were told how to crawl on the floor where the air is cleaner. One of the firemen put on an air tank and demonstrated how the firemen are able to breathe in a burning building. All of this gear can look scary, so don't ever run or hide if you see a fireman, because they are there to help you.
All of the firemen in the Belington department are volunteers. They take time out of their schedules to teach these classes as a way to give back to the community. Everyone agrees that if just one life is saved, then it is all worth it.
If anyone would like to help support the BVFD, one way of doing so is to come out today from 6:30 a.m. - 2 p.m. for the department's benefit buckwheat dinner.