Assistant Chief Darin Coffey said the firefighters' message to
students says two things: (1) how to determine if there are two ways
out of the bedroom; and (2) the importance of a meeting place outside
the home where family members can gather after they escape from a
"We always tell them how to prevent fires -- in their homes and
outdoors," the assistant chief said, "but we also tell them how
important it is to find a place outside their home where everyone
can meet after they escape a burning house.
"That location has to be determined by each family individually,
because everyone has a place that will be familiar to their family
members -- the mailbox, a neighbor's porch, the tree at the end of the
"After the firefighters arrive, the first eight minutes are
crucial," Coffey continued. "The crew is multitasking, and that can
be more or less for each man, depending how many firefighters are on
the scene. The benchmarks for a checklist of actions can change,
depending on conditions and specific factors.
"That is why we stress to the students that it is important for them
and their family members to leave the house as soon as possible and
to account for each other in order to know everyone is out of the
house. Every situation is different, but having the people safe is
always top priority."
Coffey said budget cuts had eliminated the
department's ability to acquire fire safety and prevention coloring
books for students. He and inspector Bret Tripplett plan to create a
worksheet that will be something students can take home and share
Firefighters were at West Lincoln-Broadwell, Jefferson
and Central elementary schools on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday
this week. They will visit a different school each Tuesday,
Wednesday and Thursday through October.
A poster contest was
conducted throughout September in kindergarten through third grades,
and four winners will receive a fire truck ride to school as their
prize. The poster will also be published in the Lincoln Daily News
on Fridays through October, beginning today.
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Parents can reinforce the lessons and help children learn something
that will help everyone -- learn their address. A child may need to
call the 911 dispatcher, and they need to know what to say. Playacting will allow even a young child to practice the call.
The department alternates its Stay Alive House and smoke
demonstration with a classroom-only program explaining equipment and
letting students touch and have a close-up experience with the
firefighters' gear and outfit. As another way to repeat the safety
and meeting place information, Coffey said they may consider
extending the program to older students, possibly high school.
"That is something we should consider because the high school
students are old enough to be baby-sitting and spending time alone
with younger siblings," he said, "and if they are responsible for
other people in that way, they should be prepared."
Firefighters at Jefferson on Wednesday were Assistant Chief Darrin
Coffey, Capt. Ben Roland, Lt. Todd Koehler, inspector Bret Tripplett
and firefighter Andy Dexter.
[By MARLA BLAIR]