TUSCALOOSA, AL--The Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue Service used its grant to establish a Fire Prevention and Safety Education program featuring a 36-foot-long mobile Fire Safety House, used for teaching schoolchildren and adults what to do in case of a fire at their homes.
"The grant gave us the start that we needed to build a progressive and vital public education program," said Tuscaloosa Department Fire Investigator John M. Brook.
Rather than just telling kids what to do when a house fire happens, the Safety House helps children use their imaginations and senses to practice getting out of a burning house safely. In a room full of nontoxic smoke, kids are taught to crawl to the bedroom door and feel the doorknob for heat before opening it. Department personnel help the children practice finding safe exits from the house and meeting family members outside.
Evidence of the program's value came in May 2003. A first-grader who had been through the Safety House program just a few days earlier woke up to a fire in her bedroom. She led her family outside to safety just as she had been taught at the Safety House.
A local paper, The Tuscaloosa News, quoted Fire Chief Alan Martin as saying, "This one time paid for the trailer, in my opinion." The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) newsletter, On Scene, also covered the story and quoted Travis Parker, the department's EMS Supervisor, who said "We cannot be sure of how many times our training programs work, but this one success story makes all the school visits worthwhile."("Tuscaloosa Fire and Rescue and SAFE Kids: Life-saving partnership," On Scene, Vol. 17:3, August 15, 2003).
What They Bought With The Grant:
- Mobile fire safety house