Fire Course for School Pupils

Fire Course for School Pupils

Fire extinguisher use is explained to school children by Fire Fighter Kevin Crouch of the Laurelton Fire Department, Rochester, N.Y., as a fellow fire fighter, the Rev. Robert Winterkorn watches.

The Norwood Project is an attempt to put fire prevention education into a school system at an age level and in a form that will have the most lasting effect. The Laurelton Fire Department was lucky. Our opportunity was actually dumped in our lap by one of our local schools.

Course objectives

In September 1972, the Norwood Middle School in our fire district was establishing a series of mini courses. Mini courses are becoming the closest thing to a craze that you can find in educational systems in the United States and they are an opportunity at which the fire service should jump. Their avowed purpose is to make a wide variety of cultural interests available to the students. The subjects are usually presented by people from the community. The school people asked us to present a mini course about the fire service and its responsibility to the community.

Two objectives were immediately apparent. The first was to develop and present a course in fire prevention education. We, were attracted by the opportunity to work with the 12 to 14-year age level because we knew it to be an age range with a very high learning rate. We wanted this information to make a lasting impression on the students as well as to be carried home to the parents.

The second objective was to avoid the pitfalls of previous attempts at fire prevention education. Thus, we determined to make this a hands-on course to give the students a basic understanding of what a fire fighter is, what he has to do, why he has to do it, and how he does it.

The theory on which we proceeded was that the second objective would reinforce the first objective. Thus, by generating interest in, enthusiasm for, and understanding about fire extinguishment, we hope that fire prevention will be seen as a necessary part of life safety and community safety. We also feel that this is a good avenue for promoting public support of the fire service as well as for developing interest in eventual participation in the fire service.

Two instructors for class

Classes were held at the school every Tuesday afternoon during the last 45-minute period. The course extended over a period of 24 weeks. Two field trips were included in this schedule. An outline of the course content is given at the end of this article.

Two instructors were used in the class sessions. We found this use of team teaching advantageous. Not only are two heads better than one, but in the short 45-minute period, one instructor can be preparing the next presentation while the other is conducting the class. Also, demonstrations are easier to conduct with two instructors.

To begin a program such as this, we suggest that you approach the principal of the school. Give him an outline of the course you would like to offer. Ask him if such a course would fit into the school program, such as in classtime mini courses or extracurricular activities. You will also find that the guidance counselor of the school will be interested in your proposal and can offer you a great deal of help in setting up your program.

Since this past school year was our first attempt at this type of program, we were concerned mainly with the course material and its suitability. In the future, we want to be able to evaluate whether the information is being retained and, of equal importance, if it is being used at home. This means that we will have to devise a testing procedure for both students and the parents. The results of such testing will then be fed back into the program to increase its effectiveness.

Award ceremony considered

To further increase the involvement of parents in this program, we are also considering an award ceremony at the firehouse after completion of the course. The students and their families would be invited and the department would take this opportunity to present course completion certificates to the students with coverage by the local press.

The Norwood Project was a new experience for the Laurelton Fire Department. Certainly, other departments are doing similar things. Recently, a program in the high school in Wobum, Mass., has received some publicity. This program dealt with senior high school students and was taught five days a week for six weeks. In contrast to the Norwood Project, the Woburn course was a course in fire fighting and was designed to introduce the fire service to students as a career opportunity.

Perhaps a coordinated program at both the junior and senior high school levels that uses the fire prevention approach of the Norwood Project and the fire fighting approach of the Woburn course could develop an emerging society of young people who, when they see fire apparatus responding to an alarm, would think less of running to watch the fire and more of running home to recheck their own homes for fire hazards. To me, this would be a satisfying reward for the time spent in fire prevention education.


Week 1: History of fire organizations

  1. First fire company – 24 B.C.
  2. First fire regulations – England 872 A.D.
  3. Insurance companies started fire brigades to protect their interests
  4. Establishment of fire fighting forces in the new world

Fire fighting apparatus

Week 2: Chemistry of fire

  1. Fire is a chemical reaction
  2. The fire triangle

Week 3: Science of fire

  1. Four classes of fire: A, B, C and D

Week 4: Makeup of the volunteer fire department

  1. The volunteer fire department
  2. Fire districts of Monroe County
  3. Monroe County mutual aid plan

Week 5: A, B, C and Ds of fire extinguishers

  1. Right extinguisher for the right job
  2. Location and identification of fire extinguishers in the school

Week 6: Demonstration of fire extinguishers

  1. Backpack pump tanks, C02, dry chemical
  2. Techniques of using extinguishers
  3. Class demonstrations of use of extinguishers

Weeks 7 to 9: Home survival planning

  1. Importance of home survival plan
  2. Each student makes an escape plan for his home
  3. Group discussion of escape plans

Week 10: Christmas fire hazards

  1. Christmas tree problems
  2. Faulty lights and wiring
  3. Overabundance of candles
  4. Flammable Christmas decorations

Weeks 11 to 14: Burns and their treatment

  1. Proper and immediate treatment
  2. Demonstration and class practice of dressings and bandages
  3. Finger, hand, wrist and head bandages and arm sling.

Week 15: Review session

  1. Fire extinguishers
  2. Classes of fires
  3. Home survival plans

Week 16: Communications

  1. Turning in a fire alarm
  2. How to do it and what happens

Week 17 to 18: Communications

  1. Field trip to the Laurelton Fire Department
  2. Different ways of receiving an alarm
  3. School alarms
  4. Duties of the paid man receiving an alarm

Week 19: Communications

  1. Field trip to the city/county fire dispatch center
  2. Explanation of operations at the center

Week 20: Dangers of false alarms

  1. Visit by the chief of the Rochester Fire Department
  2. Investigating false alarms
  3. angers of false alarms

Week 21: Personal protective gear

Bunker coats, boots, helmets

Why they are worn

  1. Advancements in protective gear

Week 22: Ladders

  1. Types of ladders
  2. How they are used
  3. Why they are used

Week 23: Ropes and knots

  1. How the fire fighter uses ropes and knots
  2. Class practice of basic knots

Week 24: Use of breathing apparatus

  1. Fire fighter’s need for selfcontained breathing apparatus
  2. Class demonstration and use of breathing apparatus

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