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
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
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
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
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
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.
[By NILA SMITH]