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Pre-School Public Fire Education

April 6, 2012

We have a number of pre-schools and daycares here in Fire District 9.  Pre-school kids are an important demographic for fire prevention efforts.  The US Fire Administration says that the under-five age group has twice the fire fatalities of any other age group in America.  We’ve targeted that age group through the pre-schools in our fire district.

The pre-school attention span is pretty short so we concentrate on a few very important messages, driven by some important facts.



 FACT #1:  Most pre-school fire injuries and fatalities

are from fires started by the child (FEMA, 2007).

This gives us two teaching objectives.  First is prevention.  We teach children that lighters and matches are tools, not toys.  Just like Dad’s chainsaw, these tools are useful in the proper hands but should never be played with by children.  Furthermore, when a child finds lighters or matches he or she should tell an adult right away.

Secondly we teach children how to react should their clothes catch fire.  “Stop, Drop, and Roll” is the sequence used across the United States.

  1. Stop:  Running only fans the flames.  It’s an automatic response by children but we want to teach them early how to protect themselves.
  2. Drop:  Cover the face tightly with hands and fall to the floor.  The hands are over the face to protect the airway, a critical piece of anatomy where even minor burns are often life threatening.
  3. Roll:  Lay as flat on the floor as possible and roll across the floor to “smush the fire out” staving it for oxygen.

FACT #2:  The President’s National Commission On Fire Prevention and Control

advocated early fire detection devices in homes clear back in 1973

We talk about what a smoke detector sounds like, and that it means we should get out.  We underscore how dangerous smoke is (80% of U.S. fire fatalities died from smoke inhalation in 2007 according to FEMA).   We advocate crawling low under smoke, going to a meeting place, and not returning to the house.  We also talk about planning and practicing fire evacuations at home.  Families that make up their exit plan while the house is burning seldom escape without tragedy.

FACT #3:  A firefighter in full protective gear looks pretty intimidating to a child.

 Finally, we show children what a fireman wears inside a fire.  Young children often think they can hide from fire.  As the fire spreads, children may continue looking for a “safe” hiding place.  Then a firefighter shows up to rescue the child looking and sounding like Darth Vader; with an ax.  Young children may run from us and try to hide again, we start our search pattern all over and valuable time is lost.  We show children that despite the grotesque appearance the firefighter is a good guy who is there to help.

These learning objectives come from information gathered by the National Fire Protection Association, the National Fire Administration, and other similar fire safety organizations.  Our goal is to help protect children and if we never had to pull another kid out of a burnt building that would be just fine with us.

There is one other fact people should be aware of.

 FACT #4:  Pre-school fire safety education is most effective

when parents are an on-going part of the process.

Parents are the most important element of a child’s fire safety.  If you have any questions about fire safety or fire safety education please don’t hesitate to call us at 466-4602 or e-mail me at

One Comment
  1. Prevention Connection permalink

    I think there is a shortage of good fire safety educational programs for preschoolers. I am @Tracez on Twitter if you want to get connected

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