Fire Prevention Programs in Vocational Schools
In Bergen County, New Jersey, fire prevention programs have been taken one step beyond the traditional route of increasing fire safety awareness through presentations in local grammar schools and to adult community groups. In January 1992, the Bergen County Police and Fire Academy brought the “Fire Prevention and Suppression for Stationary Engineers Basic” program to the junior and senior classes of the Bergen County Technical School in Hackensack, New Jersey. The students, 16 to 18 years old, are enrolled in the stationary engineering f class, where they are instructed in the various areas associated with generating heat and power for commercial and residential facilities.
The new program trains students to bring safety to the workplace. Basic fire prevention and suppression procedures focus on the work environment of a stationary engineer and promote overall fire safety. Topics such as fire prevention •dn the home (as well as at work), fire behavior, fire extinguisher use, flammable and combustible liquids, and compressed gases are covered.
The class was presented two hours a day for 10 days. The first five sessions consisted of lectures, and the other five of hands-on practice and demonstrations. The stationary engineering instructor, also a volunteer firefighter, attended the sessions and helped adapt the fire prevention and safety program to the stationary engineer’s work environment.
Students periodically were asked to evaluate the contents and the relevance of the program. They rated it within the ranges of “very important” to “a definite must” and indicated that they realized the program was not intended to recruit new firefighters but to help them understand the importance of safety so they could make fire safety a priority when they entered the workforce.
The benefits of this program can be farreaching, considering that these students may one day be responsible for providing heat and power in schools, hospitals, office buildings, factories, foundries, and places of assembly and that they likely will be the first on the scene in emergencies at these facilities. Moreover, the material presented in this program may help reduce the overall number of emergencies.
The following factors must be considered when planning a fire prevention/safety program for vocational high school students:
- Treat the students as adults; they are preparing for the future and are in these classes because they want to be there.
- Design the curriculum around the subject (automobiles, electricity, wood, or computers, for example). Doing this
- stimulates feedback that can be used to refine and improve the program.
- Research the subject area to which the program is to apply; master its terminology. One way to do this is to spend some time with the students and instructor in the classroom.
- Become familiar with the general en-
- vironment of the occupation/position involved, especially with the daily routines and potential hazards. Such knowledge can be used in preparing and presenting future classes in firematics or for fire brigades.
Following these steps helps to build the ideal setting wherein the students and instructor(s) both teach and learn.
The response to the stationary engineer safety course has been such that every, department in the vocational high school is looking forward to receiving similar training. We now are working on presen-, tations for students enrolled in the electri-’ cal and automotive curriculums.