By MARY RAINWATER
To mark National Fire Prevention Week next week, the Palestine Fire Department’s fire prevention team is hosting its annual program for area students at the Palestine Civic Center.
The program will begin at 9 a.m. daily with students from Palestine, Westwood, Slocum, Neches, Cayuga and Oakwood schools attending.
Activities begin inside the Civic Center, where students will learn the basics of fire safety within the home, including kitchen safety, heater and fireplace safety as well as electrical safety.
“We will talk to them about using 911 — when and how to use it,” PFD fire prevention team leader Devin Jackson said, “and will talk to them about Project EDITH (Exit Drills in the Home), which includes things like having two ways out and having a designated meeting spot in case of an emergency.
“We also will talk to the students about seat belt use,” Jackson added. “We see a lot of kids arrive and leave school not in their seat belts and we want every kid in a seat belt.”
A skit, starring members of the Palestine Fire Department, will reinforce what the students learn in the program.
“The characters in the play didn’t pay attention on fire safety day and get into a bit of trouble,” Jackson said. “Firefighters as well as Patches, Pumper and Sparky will be there to help straighten them out.”
After the skit/presentation, students will be escorted outside to the parking lot, where city and county fire fighters will be available to show their trucks and equipment and will talk to the students about their job.
“We also will have PRMC’s new Regional Mass Casualty Response Bus for the students to view,” Jackson said. “The Texas Forest Service will be there, as well as the area volunteer departments”
Instead of traveling from campus to campus, the fire department moved the fire safety program to a central location several years ago in order to offer a more consistent presentation to students.
“Our goal is to reduce fire dangers and calls through education,” Jackson said. “The program allows the kids to see the equipment and meet the firefighters in a non-emergency setting, where they can ask questions.”
The program is organized by the PFD’s Fire Prevention Team, headed up this year by Jackson, a driver for the department.
“Most of the guys involved in the program have been doing this for a while and have kids themselves,” he said. “We love to educate kids and we get to build relationships with them, as well as school teachers and administrators at the same time.”
Fire Prevention Week is a national emphasis always held on the anniversary week of the Great Chicago Fire, which burned from Sunday, Oct. 8, to early Tuesday, Oct. 10, 1871.
Mary Rainwater may be reached via e-mail at email@example.com