When Mr. Fire comes knockin' at your door, make sure you know what to do!
That's the gist of the message Sgt. Major William Joyce, of the East Pembroke Fire Department, had for Pembroke Primary School students last week.
He and firefighters from various districts came to talk to the kids about the importance of being prepared for fire-related emergencies.
These are some of the trucks that pulled up to the school in the morning, much to the delight of the children:
Part of being prepared for a fire, according to Joyce, is developing an evacuation plan, which has to include a designated spot for the family to meet outside the home.
"And please don't pick your mom or dad's truck," Joyce said. "Mom and dad might have gone to the store or something, which means the truck could be gone."
He recommended picking a neighborhood tree or telephone pole, because "last time I checked, trees and telephone poles don't walk away."
Secondly, Joyce stressed the importance not only of getting out of a burning house, but also of staying out.
"Don't go back in for your dog or your cat or your favorite toy," he said. "You can always buy a new dog, cat or toy at the store, but there's no store I know of where your parents can get another little boy or girl."
Families should practice these and other safety measures through home fire drills, according to Joyce.
"Monday night is the best time for fire drills," he said, "because the firefighters are at the hall and we have all the equipment we need ready."
And in case one of these little ones were to get stuck in the house during a fire, Joyce stressed one very important thing they would need to remember:
"Don't be afraid of the firefighters."
He acknowledged that firefighters can look kind of scary when they come crawling into the house or room in the dark, masked, dressed in heavy gear, and breathing like Darth Vader.
Joyce explained that the masks and suits are to protect the firefighters, and that they crawl in order to avoid the fire, which is going to be "up above."
To help the kids out, the firefighters did a little demonstration in the gymnasium, with the lights off -- the kids were asked to shout out "help," as if they were trapped in a fire and needed rescue:
Some practical tips for fire prevention and safety were included in the presentation as well. Some of these were:
• Remember to empty your wastebaskets
• Keep the doors unblocked
• Change your smoke detector's battery regularly
• Don't try to put out the fire yourself; call the fire department
The assembly was followed by some hands-on activities for the kids, including tours of the buses, a look at firefighters' equipment, and trying on firemen's uniforms. These activities went on for most of the day, with classes taking turns touring the rigs:
On the way back to my car I got a look a the school's playground, which I thought looked pretty cool: