Chanukah is just around the corner, and the second-most-popular answer you get when asking children what they do on Chanukah, after getting presents, is that they light the chanukiyah. What better way to start our holiday preparations than learning about fire safety? Firefighters Jason, Ari, and Evan of the Woodmere Volunteer Fire Department arrived in their shiny red pumper truck at the HALB Lev Chana Early Childhood Center parking lot.
Speaking with two classes at a time in the back play room, Firefighter Jason Hagler reviewed basic safety rules with the children:
• In an emergency, call 911
• Don’t go near fire (with a special emphasis made on candles)
• If your clothes catch on fire, you stop, drop, cover your eyes, and roll.
Firefighter Jason called on several enthusiastic assistants from among the children to help demonstrate the lifesaving concepts he was teaching. One question that stumped the children and morot was, When firefighters get dressed, what do they put on first? If you said boots, then you are right!
One vital message that Firefighter Jason kept reiterating is that firefighters are our friends even though they may look scary in their special clothing and equipment, especially the mask. As Firefighters Ari and Evan demonstrated the sequence of donning clothing and equipment, Firefighter Jason asked: Are firefighters our friends? Do we run to them or away from them? Can firefighters help us? Do we ever hide from a firefighter?
He wanted the children to understand and internalize that in an emergency, the firefighters are our friends and they will protect us. The firefighters, in full gear, went around high-fiving the children, talking and joking with them, to show that they were the same people as before and the children need not be afraid.
From the children’s perspective, the best part came at the end when they went outside and excitedly peeked into the many compartments on the sides of the pumper truck, which were full of additional equipment the firefighters need as part of their job, and then they actually got to climb into the fire truck with their friends. As Firefighters Jason, Ari, and Evan drove away, they reminded everyone to keep safe and wished everyone a Happy Chanukah.