Volunteering to fight fires is incredibly noble, as is teaching fire safety to little ones who can’t tie their shoes yet.
Behind the awesome fire truck, the giant hoses, and the six story ladder, are people who want to keep others safe, especially kids. Some of the firefighters from the Winnemucca Volunteer Fire Department visited the Humboldt County Library to help educate the children at story time about important fire prevention and safety tips.
Fire Chief Joe Dendary said he enjoys getting to teach kids about fire safety “because I’ve been in the department for 28 years and the older guys did it with us when we were kids.”
This tradition is important because firefighters, when clad in their gear, can look a bit alarming, and a fire detector may not trigger the immediate response in a child as it does in an adult.
Simply knowing that firefighters are there to aid and that a smoke detector alarm could mean danger is very important for kids.
“If there’s ever a fire in their house, they need to know that they don’t have to be scared of us when we show up and when the alarm goes off in their house they need to know to call 911,” said Chief Dendary.
According to the American Red Cross, “children under five are twice as likely as other people to die in a home fire,” and “Taking sensible precautions in the home and teaching your child how to escape from a fire can help your family avoid this type of heartbreak.”
By simply keeping matches and lighters out of reach from children, or using flameless candles, and having a plan of action in case of a fire, makes homes significantly more safe.
Firefighter Jonathan Cipra led the instruction for the kids and taught them about the dangers of playing with lighters and matches, to call out for help if they are ever stuck in a fire so they can be found and rescued, to remind mom and dad to change the batteries in their smoke detector, and what it means when the smoke detector goes off — which “might happen sometimes while mom is cooking”— and when to call 911.
The crew familiarized the group of kids with what a smoke detector looks and sounds like, what firefighter gear looks like and all of the equipment that comes with, how different parts of the fire truck work, and with the friendly nature of the firefighters.
Another volunteer firefighter, Joey Dendary, suited up to show the children just what a firefighter looks like when they go into a fire. Having such easy access to some of the crucial first responders in the community benefits the sociability of the public and fosters protection from harm among kids.
Library Technician of Youth Services, Jayme Wells, said that having the Fire Department come and talk to the kids is important because “Children need, from a very young age, to learn that the people behind the helmets and the big gear are just our neighbors, moms, and dads; they are just people that are trying to help them. They need to be familiarized with those firefighters.”
Explaining something as arduous as fire emergency to children is not easy, but is both imperative and necessary.
A local parent of three, Renee Miller, was personally affected by a house fire back in March of this year when the rental home owned by her and her husband caught on fire.
She explained that her children, all five and under, did not actually understand the implications of the fire or fire safety.
“They didn’t actually understand fire safety, but rather than it just being a scary thing now, the firefighters made it special today so the kids can see that they go in and protect them,” said Miller.