When the fire department is called to an emergency, firefighters are there to help. But, for some of the youngest people they serve, they are imposing figures.
Firefighters wear thick coats and pants that make them look larger than they are, and could be wearing hoods and masks that obscure much of their faces. If they are using air packs, they sound like Darth Vader, and their breathing apparatus controls occasionally beep.
With Brookfield Fire Department representatives Jeremy Gless and Dale May fully outfitted, they look and sound scary, said Brookfield Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Randy Richman.
Richman assured his audience of Brookfield Elementary School students, though, that there is nothing to fear.
“They’re there to help you,” he said.
The fire department made presentations to the elementary school students Oct. 16 as part of Fire Prevention Week.
Richman showed the students each part of a firefighter’s gear and explained what it is for; stressed that the kids should not touch lighters or matches, even if a parent or other adult mistakenly leaves them accessible; and went over what to do if a child sees a fire in a house or other building: call 911, go outside, and tell an adult.
“Even though it’s scary, you never hide,” Richman said. “You always go outside so someone can find you.”
If a child is caught inside a smoke-filled room, get down on your hands and knees and crawl to the nearest door or window, if the window can be opened and is on a ground floor, Richman said. Firefighters also crawl through buildings, even if they are in full gear, because they can see better, he said.
Don’t try to put out a fire yourself – call 911 and “Let the firemen put it out,” he said.
But, if your clothes catch on fire (and the kids already knew this one)– stop, drop and roll, Richman said.
The students received goodies such as fire hats and Frisbees, and got to touch a fire hose and high five a firefighter.
“You’re the best firemen helpers ever,” Richman said.