Newport Firefighters Teach Fire Safety to St. Michael's Students
Fire awareness and survival were the hot topics at St. Michael's Country Day School last Tuesday (Oct. 19) when firefighters from the Newport Fire Department came to visit the preschool and Lower School students to educate them about the many aspects of fighting fires. October is Fire Prevention and Safety Month, and with an enthusiasm equal in importance to the matter at hand, the group brought an impressive fleet to the driveway in front of Mason House: two fire trucks, the smoke truck (a mobile classroom that teaches the elements of fire survival), the gargantuan tiller truck with the tail end under its own steerage (for navigating Newport's sharp turns and narrow one-way streets) and a ladder on top (which extends a hundred feet into the sky), and a rescue wagon.
It was hard, at times, to tell who was enjoying it more: the garrulous firemen or the equally as garrulous students. Each child got a chance to take the driver's seat. Lectures ranged from dealing with emergencies ("call 911!" quickly became the chant du jour) to tips on good health, why the need for so many axes, and the crucial demonstration on how to escape a smoke-filled room. "Never open a hot door!" was the mantra in the smoke truck, which is designed to simulate smoky-fire conditions. Students gathered in the front room while the adjoining room filled up with dry-ice smoke. Then, guided by the one fully-suited firefighter, they were shown how to drop down and crawl to the exit—and fresh air.
The firefighter-eductors included Captain Kevin Garcia, Lt. Clarence Page, Michael Page, Richard Barrows, Eddie Valen (who climbed to the top of the ladder), and a number of other unsung heroes.