Fire safety takes center stage at local schools
By Marj Jackson, Escalon Times
Lessons in fire safety were on the school slate for elementary students throughout the Escalon Unified School District this week, as the local campuses welcomed in firefighters. Among the schools visited, Dent Elementary, with presentations on both Thursday and Friday.

"These are good friends of Dent, good friends of our families," Dent assistant principal Bob Amato told the kindergarten and first grade students assembled on Friday morning.

Assistant fire chief Terry Pinheiro agreed that this is the time of year when the focus is on safety, especially with the time change coming this weekend.

That's when families should replace the in their smoke detectors, he said, to make sure it is done two times a year. When the clocks fall back, or when they spring ahead, Pinheiro said, play it safe and replace the batteries.

Pinheiro presented the fire safety program via a slide show, featuring a brother and sister duo -where the brother makes bad choices - such as playing with matches and dialing 9-1-1 in non-emergency situations - and the sister always plays it safe.

"We never play with matches," Pinheiro told the youngsters.

Firefighter Andy Estes was also on hand to show students what he looks like with all his 'turnout gear' on, including heavy coat, face mask and air tank, so the children will know that equipment is keeping him safe and is not meant to scare them.

Also making an appearance was Sparky the Fire Dog, who helped the children out by providing some answers to questions associated with the slide show.

"Can you order a pizza by calling 9-1-1?," Pinheiro asked the group of youngsters.

"No!," came the spirited reply. "Emergencies only!"

Pinheiro also covered topics including the stop-drop-and-roll method of putting out a fire if your clothes catch on fire, reviewed safety precautions if you are caught in a house fire, and also reminded students to never go back into a burning house, even if they have forgotten something.

Amato told students that the fire drills they practice at Dent are times when they should be serious and quiet, so they will know how to act in a real emergency.

Pinheiro urged the students to remind their parents to change the batteries in the smoke detectors this weekend. He also told them to never be afraid of firefighters - even if they look big and scary - if their house is on fire.

"Don't go in the closet, don't go under the bed, don't hide in a corner," Pinheiro said, noting that firefighters are there to help.

Students also had a chance to get a look at one of the department's newest engines, Engine 1-1, see the various tools on it and watch as firefighters demonstrated the power of the spray hose. They also had the opportunity to shake hands with the department mascot, Sparky.

Department members put on the safety presentations at Van Allen Elementary on Wednesday for about 150 students, two programs at Dent on Thursday and one more on Friday, reaching a total of about 1,000 students with the safety message.

Courtesy of the Escalon Times