Engine Company No. 4 Provides Hands-On Lessons in Fire Safety to Park View Children

(by guest contributor, Jamaal Abdul-Alim; photos by Hadiyah Abdul-Alim)

The firefighters of Engine Company No. 4 delivered a few lessons in fire safety this weekend to roughly two dozen children at the Park View Recreational Center.

Firefighter Tony Kelleher helped children use the fire hose (Photo by Hadiyah Abdul-Alim)

Some of those lessons were hands-on. The children got a chance to peer inside a fire truck, spray a water hose on the sidewalk and touch the protective gear of a firefighter after he demonstrated how to put it on.

The up close encounters were meant to get the children familiar with firefighters and what they do so that in the event of an actual fire the children won’t run and hide from the firefighters, who might look and sound scary in their oxygen masks and bulky protective gear but are there to rescue anyone who may be trapped in a burning building.

To drive home this point, DCFD wagon driver Tony Kellher had firefighter Ian O’Byrne put on his firefighter gear and asked the children to say his name — Firefighter Ian — throughout the process so that the children remember that underneath the mask and all the gear it’s still Firefighter Ian.

“Who is this?” Kellerher repeatedly asked the youths as they sat in the shade on Princeton Place.

Firefighter Ian O'Byrne in his firefighter gear (Photo by Hadiyah Abdul-Alim)

“Firefighter Ian,” the children would all yell in response.

Inside the small recreation center building on Princeton Place, DCFD Public Educator Patricia Everett instructed the children on what to do in an actual fire.

For instance, she said, children should crawl on the floor beneath the thickness of the smoke in order to get out of a burning structure because that’s where the breathable air will be.

She also encouraged the children to talk with their parents or guardians about making an escape plan in case a fire breaks out in their homes — something for which the need was quite evident.

“How many of you have escape plans,” Everett asked, a question to which few, if any, hands went up.

Everett advised against breaking windows to escape a burning building because going through the broken windows could cause further injury. Instead of breaking windows, Everett said, it’s better to make sure before an emergency takes place that all of the windows in a home can be easily opened and shut.

Because the children were so young, Everett advised them not to try to put out a fire by themselves but to let an adult know as soon as a fire breaks out. Kelleher addressed the importance of dialing 911 for emergencies only.

Lt. Cecil Basinger giving children an opportunity to looking inside a fire truck (photo by Hadiyah Abdul-Alim)

The importance of such lessons are underscored by a fire that took place at a row house in the 600 block of Quincy St. last month.

The fire took place April 26 when an unknown electrical event occurred in a second-floor bedroom near the window of an air conditioner.

A 7-year-old girl who was in the room where the fire broke out threw two glasses of water on the fire in an attempt to extinguish the fire before notifying her grandparents, who were also home at the time, according to DCFD Chief Dennis Rubin.

Though there were no injuries, using water to put out the electrical fire was an extremely dangerous thing to do because water can make electrical fires grow. There are other risks as well.

“Since they involve electricity, and water conducts electricity, using water to put out the fire can cause electrocution,” states a paper published by the U.S. Fire Administration. “Never use water on suspected electrical fires, and inform your local fire department when you call 9-1-1 that you presume the fire to be electrical.”

Since the need for fire safety education for children is ongoing, Everett, the DCFD public educator, said she planned to follow up with administrators at the Bruce-Monroe at Park View Elementary School to do fire safety presentations to even more children at the school in the near future.

Saturday’s event was organized by a Park View resident and Councilmember Jim Graham, who contacted DCFD Fire Chief Rubin in the wake of the Quincy St. fire. It was held in conjunction with Fun Saturdays, a recreation program for children that takes place at the Rec Center from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each Saturday. Fun Saturdays is part of the Park View Kids Zone.

You can see all of the photographs of this event by going here>>

Councilmember Graham with the author, Jamaal Abdul-Alim, and his daughter, Hadiyah Abdul-Alim


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5 Comments on “Engine Company No. 4 Provides Hands-On Lessons in Fire Safety to Park View Children”

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