Take A Closer Look at Your Local Heroes: Fire Fighters
By Jen Holmstrom

Did you know that October is National Fire Prevention Month? Most fire departments designate the second week of October “Fire Prevention Week” and some of them hold open houses or demonstrations throughout the U.S. But even if you are not able to attend one, you can easily schedule a tour of your local station. And a field trip to the fire department is a must! It is enjoyable for all ages and is a vital source of information for life skills and safety.

During our dry and hot season, firefighters are on alert due to the high risk of brush fires occurring. We see these fires break out and it rattles our nerves, but we are lucky to have a wonderful system of trained fire fighters who quickly contain and extinguish fires. These men and women are heroes and protect our community. It is important for children to be taught to respect occupations like fire fighting. Too often we forget the special blessings that we enjoy daily, because they are silently standing by in case of an emergency.

Children are always enthusiastic about a tour around the fire station. And the small children are often head over heels for the experience. Seeing the actual fire fighters and hearing them speak is a treat. They will show the kids where they eat, sleep, train, study, etc. A highlight is seeing the Fire Fighting Gear. The tour guide will go through each separate piece of clothing and gear they put on. Sometimes, they even pick a lucky participant to wear all the gear! Heavy stuff! They may even let the children hold and spray the water hose! Now that is a special photo to have.

During the tour of the station, the fire fighters will show everyone the fire engine. This rare opportunity is pure gold to some children. These same vehicles are the ones that go whirring down the street flashing bright red lights and blasting horns. This is one of the first visuals and sounds that children remember. To be up close and personal with this vehicle helps children to make those connections and to slightly understand what goes on behind the scenes. Participants are normally allowed to climb onto the fire engine and get an idea of what it would be like to ride in one.

No trip to the fire department would be complete without a lesson in fire safety. A fire fighter will go over a few fire/emergency scenarios with the kids and walk through the proper procedure. “Stop, Drop and Roll” is a fun lesson because the kids get a chance to roll around on the floor to practice. Fire fighters will also talk about the importance of knowing your phone number and the best way to contact authorities in an emergency. This portion is important for the adults to note. Not only because of the practical use in life, but also because parents will want to review these safety procedures with their children at a later time.

There are numerous resources for worksheets, coloring pages, checklists, and art projects provided on Pinterest if you search “Fire safety for kids.” With all these ideas, you could put together an entire week or even a month of homeschool curriculum based on fire safety. There are also lots of children’s books about firefighters or fire stations that would be fun to incorporate as well.

Fire fighters are happy to show the public what they do. They are trained to instruct others in safety and the best ways to handle an emergency. They also are usually well versed in how to make a tour kid friendly and even provide some fun souvenirs like hats or stickers. I’m sure this is how some children are inspired to seek out a future occupation as well. This happens to be one of my very favorite field trips, which I repeat annually with my children. It is a wonderful way to make sure our children are getting an education in safety and to learn to appreciate the efforts of our community to protect each other.

More for our members on field trips:

At HECOA, we LOVE field trips!  They are a great way to enhance your academic content and they really help kids to get hands-on experiences to extend the learner to much deeper levels.  We have articles as well as recorded webinars on field trips, and we have TWO amazing field trips scheduled at the national level for 2016 - one is to Yellowstone National Park in June 2016, and the other is to Washington D.C. in September!


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