By Karla Pomeroy

National Fire Prevention Week: 'Look. Listen. Learn.'

Worland fire department emphasizes the basics with local students


October 10, 2018

Karla Pomeroy

Worland Fire Lt. Troy Nelsen helps Victoria Casdorph on with boots pants and suspenders showing how big and bulky firefighter gear is during National Fire Prevention Week visit to South Side Tuesday morning.

WORLAND - Today's home fires burn faster than ever. In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. Knowing how to use that time wisely takes planning and practice.

The Worland Volunteer Fire Department (WVFD) is teaming up with the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) - the official sponsor of Fire Prevention Week for more than 90 years - to promote this year's Fire Prevention Week campaign, "Look. Listen. Learn. Be aware. Fire can happen anywhere," which works to educate the public about basic but essential ways to quickly and safely escape a home fire.

The WVFD visits Worland schools and preschools each year during Fire Prevention Week including Head Start, Children's Resource Center, Worland Preschool, and all three elementary schools. They are also visiting the Washakie County Library during story time today. Each child will receive a plastic firefighter helmet and a backpack full of fire prevention information, rulers and fun coloring stickers.

The week will culminate with a community appreciation pancake breakfast at the fire hall on Fifth Street that will include fire prevention information and fire truck rides. Worland Fire Chief Chris Kocher noted the fire truck rides are enjoyed each year by children and adults.

He said the Fire Prevention Week curriculum is geared toward the specific age group but everyone receives the basics:

•Stop, drop and roll, although Firefighter Bruce Nielsen noted to South Side students Tuesday that you also need to include cover your face before you drop.

•Get low and stay low with the firefighters holding a blanket low to the ground and having the students crawl under the blanket so they understand how low they need to get to protect themselves from smoke.

•Get out and stay out. Kocher said everyone home needs to have an evacuation plan and everyone in the home needs to understand how they will get out of the home. They also need to make sure they have a designated meeting place outside of the home.

Once you leave a burning structure, he said, never go back in.

•Always remember the magic number 9-1-1 to be used only when you need the fire department, police or ambulance.

•And do not hide from the firefighters. Kocher said they have firefighters put on gear for preschool, kindergarten and first-graders so they can see what a firefighter will look like with all the gear including an air mask. He said they don't want children to be scared when they enter a building to rescue them.

Second graders at South Side, in reciting what they learned in previous years emphasized not hiding because it is harder for firefighters to find them and get them to safety.

He said third grade learns about peer pressure and there is more discussion about staying away from and not playing with matches or lighters.


At the second- and third-grade levels, the curriculum adds science and the three ways to fight fire - smother (stop, drop and roll), cooling (with water) and on forest fires removing the fuel or separating the fire from the fuel.

During Tuesday's visit to South Side, some students also got a history lesson when the question arose if the WVFD had a dog. They do not but the students were told that dogs first were on fire departments when the fire pump was pulled by horses. The dog stayed with the horses to make sure the horses didn't take off.


All of the curriculum leads up to the fourth and fifth grade when they bring in the "smoke" bus and the fourth- and fifth-graders use what they've learned through the years to exit a "smoking" bus safely with some students having to find their way out of a window and others finding the way to the back of the bus depending on obstacles they find inside the bus.

"It's amazing what the children remember year in and year out," Kocher said.

But, the education does not end there. Kocher said they assist Worland Middle School with Life R U Ready every year and at the high school they work with the science classes to extinguish fire using fire extinguishers at the fire training center.


The National Fire Protection Association's "Look. Listen. Learn." campaign this year highlights three steps people can take to help quickly and safely escape a fire:

-Look for places fire could start.

-Listen for the sound of the smoke alarm.

-Learn 2 ways out of every room.

Other tips for families, Kocher said include:

•Again, making sure everyone knows how to get out of the home in case of an emergency.

•Don't overload outlets.

•Don't use electrical cords that are damaged. Kocher emphasized that these include charging cords for digital devices including smartphones and tablets. "A damaged cord can catch things on fire," he said.

•Don't have candles in areas where curtains can catch fire.

He said people need to be aware of their home and other dangers. He said one recent call came when the family dog tried to get some food off of the stove and in the process turned a burner on by hitting the burner knob to the on position. The burner in turn started burning the pan of food on the stove, filling the home with smoke.

"We try to offer simple tips to help people prevent possibly losing their home," Kocher said.

He added they also encourage people to take the time every time the time changes from mountain time to daylight saving time and back, to check and/or replace the batteries on smoke detectors. Daylight saving time will end at 2 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 4.

Kocher added that people should also consider making sure their home has a carbon monoxide detector. If the detector goes off, he said people should notify the fire department so they can determine if there is a threat from the colorless, odorless gas.


NFPA statistics show that the number of U.S. home fires has been steadily declining over the past few decades. However, the death rate per 1000 home fires that are reported to fire departments was 10 percent higher in 2016 than in 1980.

"These numbers show that while we've made significant progress in teaching people how to prevent fires from happening, there's still much more work to do in terms of educating the public about how to protect themselves in the event of one," said Lorraine Carli, NFPA's vice president of Outreach and Advocacy. "This is particularly critical given the increased speed at which today's home fires grow and spread."

Carli also notes that although people feel safest in their home, it is also the place people are at greatest risk to fire, with four out of five U.S. fire deaths occurring at home. That over-confidence contributes to a complacency toward home escape planning and practice.

While NFPA and the Worland Volunteer Fire Department are focusing on home fires, these fire safety messages apply to virtually anywhere.

According to the NFPA, "No matter where you are, look for available exits. If the alarm system sounds, take it seriously and exit the building immediately."




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