ROCHESTER, Minn. - Previously, the Rochester Fire Department went into classrooms of any grade whenever invited to educate students on fire prevention and safety. This month, they're beginning a new initiative to make sure children across the city receive the same message at the same age.
Throughout the month of October, RFD is meeting with every Rochester Public School 2nd grader to teach them everything from the importance of a smoke alarm, to how to recognize a firefighter in all of their gear so that kids won't be scared and hide if a firefighter ever enters their home in a fire emergency. On Tuesday, they taught Jefferson Elementary School 2nd graders. "If they come look for you and you're hiding, that's not good because what if the fire could break through where you're in and you could get burnt and then the firefighters come and save you," says Jefferson 2nd grader Kion Davis.
The firefighters worked with Rochester Public Schools to determine 2nd grade as the best age for kids to receive the safety message. "A message you give to a preschooler would be completely different than what you give to a 6th grader and we wanted to get the message to the kids as young as we can, as early in their life as they can, at a time where they're going to understand it and retain it," explains Captain Brett Knapp.
Students also received a 'Learn Not to Burn' booklet to take home. The booklet is available in multiple languages, so that teachers can send home the information to students' whose first language isn't English, or whose parents don't speak English.
"One of the most important parts of our mission is public education and that includes visiting with kids and teaching them how to keep themselves safe and not be nervous if a fire truck and a firefighter show up," explains Captain Knapp. "But also it's important because the students are a good way for us to communicate with the parents at home with the materials that we send home with them and help them go home and keep their whole family safe."
October is National Fire Prevention Month and October 7-13 is National Fire Prevention Week.