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Students Learn Basics Of Fire Safety
Escalon volunteer fireman Jordan Palmer answers a question from a student touring the fire trucks stationed outside Dent Elementary School on Friday morning as part of a Fire Prevention Week program. - photo by Marg Jackson/The Times

By the time Escalon firefighters were finished on Thursday, over a thousand grade school students had learned the basics of fire safety and prevention.

A contingent of Escalon fire personnel visited Dent and Van Allen elementary schools to put on presentations for Fire Prevention Week and coordinator Terry Pinheiro said while the message is a pretty simple one, it is also important.

The youngsters learn about the ‘stop, drop and roll’ procedure if their clothing was ever to catch on fire, how to help their family set up a safe meeting spot in case of fire or emergency, and the do’s and don’ts of fire safety, such as never playing with matches or lighters.

Part of the program also covers what could happen in a fire, and what a firefighter would look like with all their gear on. Because of the turnout gear, complete with air tank and face mask, a firefighter can look a little intimidating, said Pinheiro, and the goal is to get the children familiar with the look so they aren’t frightened.

Firefighter Anthony Munoz was in the turnout gear for a presentation at Dent Elementary and the students learned about how the equipment helps keep the firefighters themselves safe from smoke and flames as well.

“I think the thing that impresses me most,” Pinheiro said, “is that in the 15 or more years we have been doing this, we have yet to have an incident with an Escalon Unified School District student playing with fire.”

Students are taking the message to heart, it appears, said Pinheiro, and staying fire safe.

Part of the program was hosted inside at the elementary schools, with students also getting the chance to see a variety of fire trucks outside, with information provided about the gear each one carries and the specific type of truck, whether it was a rescue vehicle, brush truck, water tender or ladder truck.

“Basically this is just to reinforce with them the general fire safety rules,” Pinheiro said of doing three grade level presentations at Dent Elementary and one full school assembly at Van Allen.

“We also remind them, and everybody, to check the smoke detectors in their home and change the batteries two times a year, in fall and in spring.”

Escalon Fire Department is currently running its free battery replacement program; anyone needing assistance checking or replacing the battery in their smoke detector can call the fire department at 838-7500 and they will respond to change the battery.

Along with Pinheiro, who serves as a Battalion Chief for the fire department, those assisting with the fire prevention programs were firefighter Ryan Burr, and volunteer firemen Dave Velasco, Jordan Palmer and Anthony Munoz.