Child Care Centers & GSA Partner For Fire Safety
February 12, 2013
Students at three Atlanta area federal child care centers were treated to fire safety tips from a real live fireman…or at least a GSA associate dressed like one.
Rex Burch, Regional Fire Protection Engineer conducted hands on, interactive sessions with pre-schoolers to teach them techniques that can save their lives and their families. For Rex, this project has been a labor of love. “There are still such an alarming number of home fire fatalities every day in this country that could almost always have been avoided with proper awareness and education”.
The one hour sessions were conducted at Summit Child Care Center (Kidazzle Child Care) Peachtree Summit Federal Building, Center Child Enrichment Center (Children's Choice Learning Center) Sam Nunn Atlanta Federal Center, and the Kidazzle Child Care, Federal Aviation Administration Building.
Rex found that some of his young students were pretty knowledgeable already. “I was surprised that many young children in child care know some of the basics such as what number to call in an emergency and how to stop, drop and roll if their clothes catch on fire”. Rex’s sessions added to their knowledge by teaching techniques such as knowing two ways out of their home, crawling low in a smoke-filled room and having a family meeting place outside in the event of a real emergency.
The children are usually very excited and engaged in the discussions. Perhaps the most engaging part of the training is when Rex puts on the firefighter’s protective gear. “I put on the full firefighting protective gear one piece at a time so they can see the transformation taking place.”
As entertaining as this part of the program may be – it has a serious purpose. According to Rex “…there have been documented cases where children run away from firefighters because the protective gear makes them look and sound like a monster.” The swishing sounds made by the breathing apparatus can be particular scary for young children. “I always crawl on the floor and get every child to give me a high five to familiarize them with what a firefighter really looks and sounds like, so they won’t be afraid if they ever encounter one in their home during a real fire emergency”.
The presentation also provides these youngsters with skills and practices designed to prevent a fire from starting in the first place. According to Rex…”I also teach them to never play with matches and give matches or lighters to an adult if they find them.”
You might even call this a little people’s train-the-trainer session. “I charge every child to go home and ask their mom, dad or other family members if they have a working smoke detector and to discuss the other fire safety topics we covered in class”. He also gives each child a fire safety pamphlet to take home and share with family members.
Rex is no stranger to the cause of fire safety. Before joining GSA, he retired as a Lieutenant Paramedic with the Marietta Fire Department after 28 years of service. He spent many years teaching fire safety to the Marietta City Schools, child care organizations and civic groups.
The program is a powerful example of the value that comes from GSA’s collaboration with its federal partners - its part of GSA’s commitment to serve our federal partners and the community as a whole.
Rex concludes “I really enjoy the interaction with the children - especially when we're teaching them something that could possibly save their life one day”.