Teaching School Children Fire Prevention

Teaching School Children Fire Prevention

Chief of Canton Describes the Demonstration He Arranged to Impress Scholars with Need for Fire Prevention—All Kinds of Hazards Shown—Scholars Invited by Classes

AS every day is “Fire Prevention Day” with us in our city and as a means of teaching Fire Prevention to school children, I conceived the idea of erecting an exhibit at my headquarters in the central fire station showing the common causes of fires and how most fires are caused by carelessness. I had previously been collecting articles which had already caused fires f o r several years such as defective electrical wiring and electrical appliances including irons, fuse plugs, switches, connections, etc., also defective gas stoves, rubber hose connections, gasoline cans which had exploded, swinging gas brackets, paper shades which had caught fire from light bulbs, defective flue stops, furnace pipes, pennies that had been placed behind fuse plugs, of which I collected nearly a two quart jar full, defective oil stoves, etc.

Chief R. O. Mesnar, Canton, Ohio

Arrangement of the Exhibits

I then had a bench erected for the exhibits, which I arranged as follows: Beginning at the left hand side, I had fire alarm boxes installed to show the proper way to send in a fire alarm in case of fire. Next I installed an exhibit to show faulty fire grate construction, also how a vent pipe from such a grate can cause a fire by being built against the lath or studding, or when a vent pipe is made from poor material. Next I placed an open coal stove which had set fire to a garage. A clothes rack was arranged to show how clothing can catch fire when hung close to an open stove. Several oil stoves came next to show how a fire can occur from not taking care of the wicks in them. A charred wooden shelf which had caught fire when a tallow candle placed thereon had burned down to it came next followed by a gasoline can which had exploded in the hands of a nine year old girl and which caused her death. An ironing board which was charred by leaving the electric iron on it with the current turned on came next followed by a defective flue stop showing how they burn through sometimes when a chimney burns out and causes fires. A defective furnace pipe which had caused a fire came next and a wood box which had been charred by hot ashes was also arranged to show how a fire can occur. Next came two large boards upon which I arranged with the help of our electrical inspector several hundred pieces of defective electrical appliances such as fuse plugs, unsoldered joints, bridged switches, defective bed warmer, poor wiring, etc., many of which had already caused fires while others would sooner or later.

Other Hazards Illustrated

On the floor I arranged a rubbish pile and also some oily and greasy rags to show the danger from these sources and overhead I hung some inflammable, decorating material to show how a fire can start by decorating near a light bulb or socket. Different kinds of fire works were placed in the exhibit to show their hazard and defective rubber hose connections which I had confiscated were hung up on wires by the dozen. Speaking of hose connections, I have about 2 1/2 miles all told which we gathered in my city-wide inspection during 1919. Several swinging gas brackets were arranged in such a manner so as to show how they can cause a fire when carelessly swung about while they are burning.

Barn and Christmas Tree Exhibits

I then had my mechanic erect a miniature barn to show the danger when bay or straw is left carelessly sticking out the mow door. This exhibit also showed how boys will erect what is known as a “bumming shanty” by putting stove pipe through the side wall directly against the wood or through the roof in the same careless manner, which is a fire hazard. I also arranged two Christmas trees showing the right and the wrong way to light them. On the one I placed tallow candles and cotton to show the fire clanger as we have several fires every year from this cause and on the other tree I placed a small set of electric lights to show the safe way. Matches were arranged to show how children are liable to cause fires. Gas stoves with bad hose connections were also in the exhibit. I also arranged a hot plate to show how they will set fire to a wood base.

Invitation to Schools by Classes

When all was ready, I notified the principals and heads of our schools telling them of the exhibit and inviting them to come in classes when I would explain and illustrate the exhibit. This invitation included both the public and parochial schools in the entire city. In a few days the teachers began bringing their classes generally in the afternoon and as many as three classes at a time. I would spend about one hour explaining the different fire hazards at each time and I have had as many as five classes come in one afternoon. For the last two weeks classes have been coming every day excepting Saturday and Sunday and I probably will continue to keep the exhibit going for a week or more. I have also invited the different women’s clubs of our city to visit the exhibit during the week of November 20 to 27. The newspapers of our city also kindly assisted with articles in their issues at different times during the last several weeks and the general comment is that a practical lesson in Fire Prevention is far more effective than if I and my men would have made speeches at the different schools on Fire Prevention Day.

Class of Canton, Ohio, School Children Viewing Exhibit by Chief Mesnar at Fire Headquarters, Showing Exhibit.Chief Mesnar Surrounded by School Children in Central Fire Station

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