Northwest 3rd-graders enjoy breakfast at the firehouse

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[October 09, 2013]  In observance of Fire Safety Week, on Monday morning the Lincoln Fire Department hosted a breakfast at the firehouse for the third-grade classes from Northwest School. This is just one of several events that are being hosted by the department during October.

The 43 students who attended Monday morning arrived with third-grade teacher Lesli Hake and Principal Chris Allen. At Northwest there are two classes of third-graders: Ms. Hake's class and the class taught by Samantha Conlee. Ms. Conlee was unable to attend due to illness.

The first order of business for the day was breakfast. Students were treated to pancakes made by Claude VanFossan and sausages prepared by the firefighters. They were also offered a choice of orange juice or milk, with the firefighters moving from table to table filling glasses.

The firefighters serving breakfast were Assistant Chief Darrin Coffey, Assistant Chief Bob Danosky and Capt. Chris Harding. Instruction was provided by inspector Tim Aper and Lt. Jason Van Winkle with assistance from inspector Ashley Williams and firefighter Robert Wood. Fire Chief Mark Miller also paid a visit to the class during the morning.

After breakfast, Aper, with assistance from Van Winkle and Wood, talked to the kids about fires, how to avoid them, what to do when they do occur and what to expect when firemen arrive.

The discussions included knowing when to call 911 and who will respond to the call. Children learned that 911 is for fire, police and ambulance and not for ordering pizza or telling on the teacher when she assigns too much homework.

Kids also learned that when firefighters are in a fire truck heading out for a call, they are completely focused on where they are going and what they are doing. Children were told that is why the firefighters don't wave at them on the road. They were also advised that when they see or hear a fire truck coming, they should encourage their parents to pull off to the side of the road and stop so the truck can safely pass them.

Aper and Van Winkle also talked about what to do in the night when smoke alarms go off. Kids were reminded to roll out of their beds and stay on the floor. They were instructed to crawl to their bedroom door and feel it with the back of their hand to see if it is hot. If the door is hot, they were told to go to their bedroom window, raise the window and do all they can to get the attention of firefighters outside.

The kids were asked, "What are some of the things you can do to get a firefighter's attention?"

Their responses were all correct: Yell loudly, use a flashlight if you have one, or wave a light-colored piece of clothing.

Students also talked about going to their meeting place outside the home and never returning to a burning building for any reason.

They asked the firefighters questions such as, "Will you rescue our pets?" Van Winkle assured them that the department would do everything in their power to rescue the animals, but people come first. He added that the department has in its history rescued many pets.

Firefighter Wood demonstrated how he puts on his gear when going to a fire. The children watched as he donned his boots and pants in one motion, added his coat, tool belt, hood, air tanks and breathing apparatus, helmet, and gloves.

Wood then demonstrated that when he goes into a burning house he, too, may be crawling on the floor.

Finally, Wood talked to the kids through his breathing mask to demonstrate the change in his voice with that equipment in use. It was explained to the children that a firefighter is not someone to be afraid of even with all the gear and the strange voice, and that they should never try to hide from firefighters.


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During a portion of the morning the class was divided into two groups. While one group stayed downstairs to listen to the firefighters talk about fire safety, the other group went upstairs to take a tour of the firefighters' home away from home. Firefighters in Lincoln serve 24-hour shifts. Therefore, they have to have accommodations that are similar to what they would have at home.

Upstairs the students saw an old firefighter uniform, the memorial set up for firefighter Bahn, who died of cancer, and the wall with photos of fires from the history of the station. They were given a look at the offices used by the fire chief and assistant chiefs as well as the office used by the fire inspectors. They got a chance to check out the firemen's break or relaxing area, the kitchen where they prepare their meals, and the dormitory where they sleep.

Each year there is always at least one child who asks if he or she can slide down the pole, and the answer is always an emphatic "no." However, the kids did get to see the pole in use during the day. The pole has its own separate room in the upstairs of the fire station. When the alarm sounds, firefighters open the door and slide down the brass pole to the fire truck bay. Harding and Miller demonstrated how they slide down the pole quickly and easily.

Another fun part of the day came toward the end, when the kids were allowed to go outside and try their hand at putting out a mock fire. Using the department's "squirt house," kids were allowed to aim the fire hose at flames in the windows of the house and knock the flames down with water.

After everyone had their turn, the day at the firehouse began to wind down, and soon everyone loaded back onto the school bus and headed back to Northwest School, where they would spend the rest of their day in the classroom.

Throughout the month of October, the Lincoln Fire Department goes to the various schools in town and shares similar information with students in the classroom.

They also sponsor a poster contest that kids in first through third grades can enter to win a ride to school in the fire truck. This year 285 students entered the contest. One winner was chosen in each grade level from kindergarten through third. Bryce Conner was the winner from the kindergarten class. He was driven to school last week. On Tuesday morning, Corbin Lohrenz, the first-grade winner, got his ride to Chester-East Lincoln.

The second-grade winner, Porter Schwantz, and the third-grade winner, Lukas Morgan, will get their rides in the near future.

During the classroom visits, third-graders are also given a special coloring book sponsored by several local businesses and produced for the fire department by Lincoln Daily News. The book offers fun and educational activities for children that will help them learn and remember the rules of fire safety.

The book is put together with input from the fire department, and this year it features drawings to color of some of the actual members of the Lincoln Fire Department.

When the children have completed their work/coloring book, there is a certificate on the back that can be filled out. Children can take the book to the fire department and Chief Miller will fill out the certificate and sign it.


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