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Fire Department Visit Sparks Student Safety Discussions

Kids aiming firehose at a toy house with fake fireWith the hose hooked up and water flowing, the firefighters took turns extinguishing the flames outside Pequenakonck Elementary School - except these firefighters were only three feet tall!

The highlight of the Croton Falls Fire Department's annual visit to the elementary school was the kindergarten and first grade students using a small fire hose to knock down wooden flames in a prop house. Giggles and cheers erupted as each student “put out” the flames.

In honor of National Fire Prevention Month, the firefighters gave tours of the water and ladder trucks, opening all the compartments to show first aid packs, rows of hose couplings, and sharing facts, like how the water truck holds 3,000 gallons of water.

A pictre from behind the fake house "on fire" with kids pointing hoses from the other side.After Fire Chief Sean Partenio walked the students around the trucks, he  kneeled down to the students’ height and slowly put on his mask, breathing apparatus, and helmet to show what firefighters look and sound like when battling a fire.

“The main goal that brings us out here,” said Assistant Chief Paul D’Agostino, gesturing to the students admiring the fire trucks, “is to teach them not to be afraid of a firefighter. We don’t want them to hide under the bed. We want them to know that someone is coming to help.”

Inside the school, firefighters screened a video and spoke with the second through fifth-grade students about the importance of sleeping with their bedroom door closed, and steps to take if they wake up to smoke or a fire alarm, including staying close to the floor and testing doors for heat before opening them.

For the older students, “we initiate the conversation about learning their home address, creating an exit strategy, and recognizing an emergency so they know when to call 9-1-1,” said D’Agostino.

“Will a fire truck be able to see you when we pull up?” asked Partenio, listening as the students responded about their family's outdoor meeting locations. “You always want your meeting place to be where we can spot you easily.”

Students greeted one firefighter with excited shouts of recognition. “You’ll see us in a jacket, boots, helmet, and a mask which makes us sound like Darth Vader,” said firefighter Justin Blauvelt, better known to the students as paraprofessional ‘Mr. B.’ “When you see a firefighter in this gear, it’s your job to let us know where you are: just scream and say, ‘I’m here!’”

Kids at a fire truck asking questions of a fireman