Stop, Drop and Roll

Published 10:34 am Monday, March 30, 2009

PROCTORVILLE — There was smoke, but definitely no fire as the Proctorville Fire Department showed students at Wee Shine Preschool how to stay safe if the flames ever did come.

It is an annual event for the pre-school with the goal of demystifying the men who dress up in those creepy Ghost-buster-like outfits.

“It is to learn about fire safety and that is scary to kids,” Connie Miller, Wee Shine director, said. “It lets them see the gear.”

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Carl Bowen, assistant chief at the department, went through garment by garment what a fireman puts on each time he goes out on a call.

Using his colleagues as mannequins, Bowen explained from the boots to the headgear how each item helps protect the firefighter as he does his job. “If you see him in a house fire, come toward him,” Bowen told the children. “He’s there to help you. He’s not scary.”

After the men were totally geared up, the youngsters were invited to go up and touch the firefighters, an opportunity that captivated more than one. “This is awful cool,” Cameron Springer, 5, said as he scrambled back to his seat.

Next the children split up into two groups as they checked out an actual fire truck, trudging up the outside steps too high for a pre-schooler’s stride and went through the “smoke house,” where a simulation of smoke showed the children just how to crawl their way to safety.

The $30,000 smoke house was on loan to Proctorville from Perry Township Fire Department. The village has a goal of getting one for itself when it can find the funding since it uses the simulator at least 10 times a year in demonstration for pre-schoolers and elementary children.

“It’s to explain safety. That is our main thing,” Bowen said. “We are there to help, not to hurt.”

The department offers these field trips to Fairland East and West and area preschools.

“By the time we get to the elementaries, it’s like an old shoe to them,” Bowen said.