Bridget Angers, a student in Grade Three at Sanford’s Willard School, emerges from the “smoke” trailer set up by Sanford Fire Department Tuesday as part of their fire prevention education activities. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

SANFORD — First they listened intently, then the Grade Three students in Eric Silva’s class at Willard School got down on their hands and knees and opened the door to where the “smoke” was. It was pretty thick, and they had to find their way out of the specially built fire department trailer.  Each one did and then they ran to their pre-arranged meeting place.

Sanford firefighter Steve Brennick talks to some of teacher Erica Silva’s Grade Three class at Willard School on Tuesday as part of the fire department’s annual fire prevention activities. After the talk, the students went one by one on their hands and knees through the “smoke” trailer that blows theatrical smoke, as part of the learning experience. TAMMY WELLS/Journal Tribune

It is Fire Prevention time — when fire departments visit schools in their communities to impress upon children how best to behave when a fire breaks out at home or elsewhere. 

In Sanford, firefighters plan to visit all kindergarten through Grade 3 classes in the city, so it takes longer than the period set aside for Fire Prevention Week.  On Tuesday afternoon, they were at Willard School and had already been to Margaret Chase Smith and  Carl J. Lamb schools, providing education to an estimated 1,100 youngsters. Lafayette School and the private St. Thomas School were to be visited later in the week.

Along with the slogan “stop, drop and roll” that has been part of  the fire safety message to kids for decades, along with making sure smoke detector batteries are fresh, this season, firefighters are emphasizing “two ways out.” They stress that kids should make sure they know two ways out of their room  — usually a door and a window — and, according to the U.S. Fire Administration, have a pre-arranged meeting spot.

First, students get a presentation from firefighters, geared to their age level. Then they get to go through the smoke trailer. They get a plastic fire hat, a bracelet with fire safety slogans and a coloring book — dispensed at the teacher’s discretion.

Firefighters say they educate the youngsters, who in turn go home and educate their parents and siblings.

On Tuesday, the children in teacher Erica Silva’s Grade Three class were eager to listen.

Firefighter Steve Brennick talked to them about keeping low if there’s a fire in their home, and to stay outside once they get out. 

“If you’re on the first floor, you can get out,”  said Brennick. “If you’re on the second floor, throw toys out the window if you can’t get out and we’ll come get you.”

He told the youngsters not to be afraid of firefighters who would be coming inside with all their gear on, including a face mask, to get them.

There was instruction on staying low — because smoke drifts high towards the ceiling — and crawling outside. Firefighters told the youngsters that once they got out, they should to go their meeting place away from the house. 

“Your life is very important. Once you’re out, don’t go back in,”  said Brennick.

— Senior Staff Writer Tammy Wells can be contacted at 324-4444 (local call in Sanford) or 282-1535, ext. 327 or [email protected]

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