LaPlace Elementary students learn hands-on fire safety

Published 12:00 am Monday, October 20, 2008


Staff Reporter

LAPLACE – Kindergarten students at LaPlace Elementary learned a multitude of valuable lessons about the dos and don’ts of fire safety, thanks to firefighters of the LaPlace Volunteer Fire Department.

As part of fire prevention week in St. John Parish, fire station 53 in the Belle Terre subdivision opened its doors and its trucks to the curious eyes and ears of about 80 youngsters from the school.

“We usually take a truck or two out to them and talk to individual classes,” said Fire Prevention Coordinator Bryan Beauchamp. “This year we thought we’d try something different. Now we are about to deal with the largest group of kids to tour the station.”

The first part of the tour was a piece-by-piece investigation of two of the three engines utilized by the station. The kids were provided with a first-hand look at the station’s pumper truck and ladder truck. 

“We do our best to explain our sophisticated tools and engine parts so that they can understand what we do when we tackle a blaze,” said Firefighter John Weaver, who guided the tour of the engines. “Most of them are amazed by all the stuff we use.”

“I liked when he opened that tube and all the water spilled out,” said one eager student. “I thought that was really funny.”

After a short tour of the two trucks, the kids were taken inside, where Beauchamp offered up a plethora of facts on how to prevent a fire and what to do if one should break out in the home.

“Fire is a tool that should only be used carefully and responsibly by adults,” Beauchamp told the attentive kids. “There’s a reason why mom and dad tell you not to play around with matches and lighters. The only fun you should be having with fire is blowing out the candles on your birthday cake.”

Beauchamp discussed kitchen safety, and explained to the children that it can be hard to tell if a stove is turned on and hot. He also expressed the extreme importance of working smoke alarms.

“Say your dad is frying something on the stove while he is watching the LSU game,” Beauchamp said to the kids. “He walks away from the stove to see what’s happening in the game and he forgets about the pan on the fryer. Before he knows it, the grease is flaring up and smoke is pouring from the stove. That’s when you hear this noise (Beauchamp presses the smoke alarm test button producing the piercing alarm) and that is why smoke alarms are so important. There should be at least one in every home.”

Finally, Beauchamp explained to the kids where they should go and what they should do if a fire breaks out.

“Get down as low as you can and crawl to the door to get away from the smoke,” Beauchamp said. “If you can’t get through the door, go to the nearest window, bust it open and climb out.”

“What if you are on the second floor,” questioned Abigail, one of the kindergarteners. “What if we can’t get out?”

Beauchamp told the kids that the best thing to do in this case is to get to the nearest window, but stay low to escape the smoke. He also said to stay visible so that firefighters can see where they are.

To give the kids an idea of what a firefighter looks like on the scene of a fire, Beauchamp had Firefighter Brad Delatte gear up in full firefighter garb so that kids know what to look for. He even dressed one lucky participant in a pint-sized fireman’s outfit.

“It was hot and pretty heavy,” said kindergartener Taylor Dawson. “They wear a lot of stuff.”

Beauchamp concluded his talk with a quick stop, drop and roll demonstration.

The students were also promised a pole demonstration, but that ended up being cut short. Just as Beauchamp’s discussion concluded, the firefighters were called out to the scene of an overturned vehicle and the kids watched as the men jumped in the trucks and cruised off to the accident scene.