Easton Firefighters Make Impact in the Classroom
During the month of October, Easton firefighters participate in a fire safety program at Easton Elementary schools.
Easton firefighter Chris Mills grabbed his boots, pants and coat from the fire truck parked outside Moreau Hall Elementary School. His helmet was tucked under his right arm and his coat was tucked under his left arm. His boots and pants were in his right hand.
"This stuff is heavy," he said. "But, the kids love it."
Mills walked in the back door, waved into the school's main office and turned the corner towards the classrooms. He approached Mrs. Narsasian's classroom and knocked twice on the open door.
A room full of rambunctious Kindergarten students stopped in their tracks and looked up to see the figure in the doorway. Their jaws dropped and eyes widened. A real-live firefighter was in their school.
Mills was participating in a yearly program put on by the Easton Fire Department to educate students at the Elementary level on fire safety. Mills, along with Captain David Beals and Larry Blye, stop in every classroom at Moreau Hall, Center School and Parkview School during October, fire safety month, and talk to students.
"I do the first and second grade classes," Beals said. "In kindergarten, Chris talks. He'll dress up and he does a great job of it. The teachers really appreciate that."
Mills' mission in Mrs. Narsasian's classroom was to introduce students to the firefighter so they're not scared should one arrive at their house. Mills dressed up in his entire uniform and taught students the importance of crawling low in smoke and seeking out firefighters in a fire rather than running away.
"Its important to remember that you don't have to hide from a firefighter," Mills said to the Kindergarten students. "We're you're friends."
The program, which was started 15 years ago has been funded by a State SAFE grant (Student Awareness Fire Education), and was partly Beals's idea. The 30-year veteran has taken the reins ever since, accompanying other firefighters like Mills on the trips to schools during October.
But, the purpose of the program isn't just to educate kids. At the first and second grade level, students are given a homework assignment. The objective is simple: check your smoke alarms with your parents.
"By doing that, you're actually getting kids to get their parents to check their smoke detectors, which is huge," said Mills. "I have a first grader and she brought it home the other day and was like 'Dad, we have to do this,' and I was like 'you're right,' so we went and did them. "
At the first and second grade levels, Beals speaks to the students about calling 9-1-1, "stop, drop and roll", getting out of a fire and staying out, and smoke detectors. Students are also lectured about good decision-making.
"Listen to this because this is really important," said Beals during a recent visit to Mrs. Duggan's first grade class at Parkview School. "Don't play with lighters or matches."
After the talk, students were allowed to go outside and spray water from the fire hose. Beals said he thinks their message is getting through.
"The kids – they enjoy it," he said. "You feel like a celebrity when you're in Shaw's and you see all these kids that you remember seeing in their class and they're all looking at you."