Local firefighters participate in Fire Prevention Week at area schools

The Fort Scott Fire Department joined other departments around the nation in Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 4-10, by visiting local public and private schools to inform students of the dangers of a fire in their home.

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Chief Paul Ballou said they use the entire month to visit area schools with a fire engine and their Fire Safety House, which simulates a house fire with artificial smoke and a smoke detector going off.

“We really put our focus on fire safety in the home,” Ballou said, saying they want to make sure the children know to leave the house quickly and meet the rest of their family at a predetermined point outside.

The firefighters also teach the children the difference between their own toys and tools which are only to be used by adults, including matches.

The Fire Safety House, which has been in the Fort Scott Fire Department’s possession since they built it around the year 1997, gives the fire department personnel an opportunity to teach the children to stay low, how to climb down a ladder and even what information to tell dispatchers if they have to call 911 in the case of a fire.

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Captain Dale Bollinger said the fire house has greatly helped them in training students since it is easier to teach them in a hands-on demonstration than just by telling them. After practicing and hearing the information each year, Bollinger said some of the older students are able to quote it back to them.

When the department completes this month’s fire prevention focus, they would have spoken to approximately 1,200 students, sometimes seeing about 240 a day.

“It’s a big month for us,” Ballou said. “We really enjoy it.”

Bollinger said the community also enjoys the theme and is receptive to it, with schools often planning their schedule around the visits and even including the topic in other teaching periods.

Throughout the rest of this week, the fire department will visit different preschools and next week will make an appearance at Eugene Ware Elementary.

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