Elementary students throughout the Pine Bush Central School District had special visitors this month. Volunteers from local fire departments visited the schools and talked to the students about fire safety.
At Edward J. Russell Elementary School, Pine Bush firefighter and past chief Craig Gillespie talked to the students about what to do in an emergency and how being safe is important to avoiding fires in the first place.
“Don’t play with matches,” he told a large group of second grade students after telling them a story about his childhood neighbors who were lighting matches in their house and set their couch on fire. Their whole house was lost in the blaze.
Gillespie also talked to the students about what to do – and what NOT to do – if their smoke detector happens to go off in their house.
“If your smoke detector goes off, don’t hide,” he reminded the young children. “Get out and stay out. Don’t go into a closet or under a bed because we won’t be able to find you.”
And he reminded the students that they should never go back into a burning house for their animals.
“Tell us and we’ll go looking for your pets,” he said. “Animals find a way out on their own very often.”
There should be two ways out of every room, he reminded the children. Sometimes that may be a door and a window. He said they should sleep with their bedroom door closed, this way keeping fire outside of their room should it happen. He encouraged them to talk to their parents about an exit strategy for every room in their house, upstairs and down. And he said they should have a place to meet outside in the case of a fire emergency.
Past Chief Gillespie asked the students what they should do if their clothes are ever on fire. “Stop, drop and roll,” they answered without hesitation.
Firefighter Anthony Borruso entered the room dressed in full firefighter gear. Firefighter Gillespie explained that sometimes the gear may look scary but there is nothing to be afraid of. “We are here to help you.”
Firefighter Borruso demonstrated how they should stay low to the floor to crawl under smoke in order to get out of a building on fire. The students then got to do it themselves at the smokehouse parked right outside. Of course, it wasn’t real smoke but it had the same appearance to show the students how dark it could be in a fire. They followed the directions perfectly, crawling under the smoke with their hand against the wall to lead them out.
The school district thanks the volunteer firefighters in the community for taking the time to teach our students about fire safety. Your service and sharing your knowledge with our students are priceless and very much appreciated.