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E.C. kindergarteners learn fire safety

September 30, 2001|By RUDY YNIGUEZ, Staff Writer

There were 31, not counting the big ones.

They came wearing blue and white, smiles and were full of energy. They came to see the fire station.

"They" were two kindergarten classes from Hedrick Elementary School, and they were the second of numerous tours being provided of fire station No. 1 by the El Centro Fire Department as the city and nation get ready to kick off National Fire Prevention Week, Oct. 7-13.

The kindergarten classes were those of Mrs. Rubalcava and Mrs. Hurt, for whom Mrs. Rider was substituting.

Rubalcava said the fire station tour is a yearly event.

"This is so the children can learn what to do in case of a fire, what they need to do in case their clothes catch fire — stop, drop, roll — or if they find matches," she said. "Really, it's about safety."

The tour started with a lesson by Battalion Chief Tim Reel, who sought to ensure that the children knew to call 911 for emergencies only. He then discussed the stop, drop, roll procedure if one's clothes were to catch fire. For those children whose homes lack smoke detectors, Reel urged the children to ask their parents to install the detectors.

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Reel then showed the youngsters what they could find in the back of a fire engine, including a heart monitor and a defribillator. He also showed them the various hoses and nozzles.

But Reel was just the warm-up for Firefighter Trey Faubion, who showed the kids the station's upstairs training room, the day room and the bedroom/weight room.

"We're always doing things to stay healthy," he said, explaining the weight equipment.

Back downstairs, Faubion discussed the proper way to test a door to determine if there is a fire on the other side. He said one should use the back of the hand, not the palm. If one were to use the palm, Faubion said the hand could get burned and not be able to grasp objects that might ease one's escape.

He told the children if they are caught inside a burning house with no apparent means of escaping, that they should sit next to a door and make a lot of noise so firefighters can find them.

Faubion then took each class of kindergartners on a tour of engine No. 3122, explaining the use of the equipment and the various areas occupied by the firefighter, the engineer and the captain.

As the finale, Faubion slid down the fire pole and donned the turnout gear as though responding to a real emergency. He then allowed the children to touch the gloves while others took advantage of his back being turned to touch the air bottle he was wearing.

As smartly as the children arrived, they departed on the big yellow school bus.

Other schools scheduled to tour the fire station include McKinley, Grace Lutheran, El Centro Vista Sands, Harding and Martin Luther King.

The history of Fire Prevention Week has its roots in the Great Chicago Fire, which occurred Oct. 9, 1871. The fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres in 27 hours.

Fire Prevention Awareness Week is dedicated to raising public awareness about the dangers of fire and how to prevent it.

Besides the fire station tours, city and county fire departments have planned the fifth annual fire prevention awareness runs Oct. 8 and 9. The event consists of a procession of fire apparatus and equipment representing the various fire agencies. The processions will take the departments past local schools.

This year's theme is "cover the bases and strike out for fire."

Finishing out Fire Prevention Week, the city of El Centro will host the fifth annual public safety parade from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 13. The event begins at the intersection of State and Eighth streets and will travel south along Eighth to Bucklin Park for the safety fair. The event is sponsored by the Imperial Valley Fire Chiefs Association.

Staff Writer Rudy Yniguez can be reached at 337-3440.

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