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Focus On Fire Safety
Hundreds of local youngsters got some much-needed information on fire prevention and safety, with members of the Escalon Fire Department stopping by area schools to visit for Fire Prevention Week.

Appearances were featured by crews at both Dent Elementary and Van Allen, with a variety of trucks and equipment brought in for display, a visit from Sparky the fire dog, and an assembly focusing on safety.

"We discussed the use, the proper use, of 9-1-1, talked about smoke detectors," noted Escalon Fire Department Battalion Chief Terry Pinheiro. "We also went over 'stop-drop-and-roll' and crawling low in smoke."

At Dent Elementary, classes came in a couple of grade levels at a time for the assembly and then adjourned to the adjacent parking lot for a look at the trucks and assorted rescue gear and equipment.

"One of the things we also talked about was EDITH," Pinheiro said, noting that the acronym stands for 'Exit Drills In The Home' and recommended to the children that they remind their parents to practice those drills so they are ready to go if there is an emergency situation at home.

Fire Prevention Week is also a good time to check the batteries in your home smoke detectors and change them, along with getting your chimney cleaned and inspected prior to firing up that first fall fire in the fireplace.

While students at both schools were attentive in the assemblies, taking in all the fire safety information, it was the outside portion of the program that really generated some interest.

Getting a chance to see the turnout gear up close, look at all the dials and gauges on the trucks and see the 65-foot ladder truck in operation always raises the excitement level of the students.

"They really remember a lot," Dent Elementary kindergarten teacher Wendy Merseth said of her students getting locked in on the fire safety message. "They retain the information, they talk about it all year."

Sparky is also a welcome visitor at all the school campuses, taking time to shake hands, pose for photos and dispense plenty of hugs.

Merseth added that while the students enjoy watching the firefighter high above the crowd using the hose to show the power of water, it's just one part of what she considers an important safety message.

"They're fascinated by it," she said. "You think they're only watching the water but they're taking it all in, too."