Guardino Elementary School, Clayton, NY

Guardino Elementary School

Fire Prevention Program

Each year members of the Clayton, Depauville, and Fishers Landing Fire Departments, as well asThousand Islands Emergency Rescue Service, as join forces to present a firesafety program to the students at Guardino Elementary School in Clayton, NY. The program is designed to be appropriate for each grade. While it requires more personnel than some other programs, the program has proven popular with the staff, and can be presented the same way each year without boring the students.

The program generally begins with a fire drill. We occasionally "block" an exit, forcing the students and teachers to use another escape path. This is something the staff does anyhow, so is not a shock to anyone. If there is some message which makes an assembly desirable (such as when 9-1-1 was implemented in the county), the students go directly to the auditorium. If not, they return to their classrooms or other designated area for the lecture portion of the presentation.

Kindergarden - Since this is the introduction to firefighters that many children receive, we make an effort to do so in a gentle, yet informative manner. We call it "Am I Still A Dad?" Usually one or two firefighters present this program, and those firefighters frequently have children in the class. Required equipment includes a full set of turnouts and SCBA. The presenters begin by introducing themselves and point up that they are some familiar family figure, if not to a class member, then perhaps to someone the children know. They begin in street clothes, then don the turnouts, one item at a time. At each step, they reinforce the theme of "Am I Still A Dad? (or whatever)" The students are usually allowed to test some items as they are donned, such as the steel toes of the boots or the helmet.

Once the jacket is coat is donned, the firefighter finds a carefully planted book of matches or lighter and asks if the item is a toy.

Once fully outfitted, the firefighter moves about the room, allowing the childred to see and touch the equipment, and reinforcing the theme. After removing the mask, we generally ask for questions, but we've found that kindergardners have a tendency to tell stories rather than ask questions.

First Grade - Having become familiar with a fully dressed firefighter the year before, we move on to teaching lessons. The first lessons we teach are 'Get Out and Stay Out', and 'Stay Low and Go'. We begin with a brief lecture on the topics, then demonstrate a room search using two or three fully outfitted firefighters and one student as a "victim." A popular activity for the kids is to hold a couple of bunker coats up as "smoke" and have the students crawl beneath them. A large mat is desirable for this activity.

Following the lecture and demonstration inside, we move outside for a tour of Clayton's quint. We try to emphasize how we use the equipment we show the students is used for rescue. A highlight of this part of the first grader's program is watching a couple of firefighters scale the raised aerial (positioned before the arrival of the students). We have also demonstrated ground ladders, including a "rescue" of a large stuffed animal from classroom window. This is a valuable option should an aerial not be available.

Second Grade - When we began this program, the second graders paid a visit to the hospital during the school year. Our emphasis with them thus takes a slightly medical bent, and we concentrate on burns. After hearing about burn prevention, the students get a refresher on 'Stop, Drop, and Roll,' which is also covered in their gym classes. This is a good opportunity to reinforce proper technique. Teachers usually help select a few suitable students to assist with the demonstration.

As you may have guessed, we then take them outside, and what better piece of apparatus to use to discuss burns than the ambulance. Thousand Islands Rescue provides ambulance service for the entire township, so of course, we use theirs. Again, as EMT's demonstrate the equipment on the rig, they try to associate it to the care of burns.

Third Grade - We deviate from pure fire prevention slightly here, and venture into some life safety as well as some household hazmat. We speak on such diverse items as bicycle helmets, seatbelts, and household cleaners. Kerosene heaters and woodstoves are common in our area, and are also addressed. Depending on the weather, such items as extrication equipment may be brought into the lecture area.

The chief reason for this approach was the desire to incorporate Clayton's heavy rescue in the program. The outside program for this group consists of a tour of the rescue. As with each level, it is important to review and incorporate the previous programs into the presentation. One thing we can do with this group is to show how the SCBA the students saw used in previous years are refilled from the cascade system.

Fourth Grade - Since kids this age can better grasp some slightly advanced concepts, and may start getting more responsibility at home, we get into a little fire science. Topics include the fire triangle and tetrahedron, fire growth, fire flows, and extinguishers. We have, in the past, used a video clip from 48 Hours showing fire growth (less than 3 minutes from ignition to fully flashed). Having several extinguishers allows the firefighters to demonstrate proper use. This year we reviewed the need to "Get Out" by having the students imagine themselves in a familiar room in their house. We then asked them to imagine that they were still in the room, but that it was completely dark, and to try to find their way out.

We also introduce Clayton Fire's thermal imaging camera to the group. They are genuinely amazed as they see the residual thermal handprints we leave on windows and other surfaces, as well as the sight of the thermal imprint they left on the floor as they watched the presentation.

When this group moves outside, they see a pumper from one of the three participating departments. Discussion centers on the resources needed for fire suppression and how the engine provides those resources.

Fifth Grade - Having seen representatives of every type of apparatus but tankers over the past four years, our fifth graders get to take a field trip to where all the apparatus "lives." Weather permitting, they walk, but busses are readily available if necessary. They don't really get a tour of the station, though. Instead we talk to them about how we are dispatched, proper telephone procedure when calling for help, and why false alarms are a bad thing. Depending on how busy fire control happens to be, we may call for a pager test to demonstrate that operation. We've been fortunate many times over the years to have a member who happens to be a dispatcher available to give the lecture. Following the lecture, we station firefighters throughout the station and allow the students to explore the apparatus and ask questions.

Sixth graders in the Thousand Islands school district attend the middle school, which is in another fire district. We haven't yet worked up a program for the older students.

This program has been used since 1991, with great success. Although it is manpower intensive, most of the individual jobs are simple and well within the capabilities of any firefighter. Those with special knowledge in a given area are usually charged with leading a given grade group, such as burns (usually an EMT). The program allows us to reach a large number of students in a relatively short time, which makes more people available since they aren't away from work as long, should that be an issue. We also provide several video tapes appropriate for the subject matter for teachers to show when appropriate.

Could we do more? Of course! But the program has been well received, and one can never discount the knowledge a child can gain, even in a short time. An important part of all of the presentations is review of previous topics, and the kids never cease to amaze with their recall of important points.

We don't have any sort of copyright on our program. Just let us know if you decide to use all or part of it.

Updated October 9, 2008