Fire districts provide Fire Prevention Week education with COVID-19 adaptations
KEYSTONE — Local fire districts are switching things up this year for Fire Prevention Week, hoping to provide community members with the education they need to keep themselves and their families safe.
Each year, the fire districts host educational events for the community as part of a nationwide effort organized by the National Fire Protection Association. This year, Fire Prevention Week will be held from Oct. 4-10, but with COVID-19 still a major concern, officials are coming up with new ideas to help get the message out.
“It’s the one week every year that we really highlight fire safety,” said Chief Jim Keating of the Red, White & Blue Fire Protection District in Breckenridge. “We live in a community that’s surrounded by dry forests, and we’re always on the watch for fire, so anything we can do to highlight a national week observing fire safety is something we want to promote. Even if its much more difficult this year to get that word out.”
One of the biggest annual programs during Fire Prevention Week is educating the county’s children about fire safety by sending representatives with Summit Fire & EMS and Red, White & Blue to local schools to get students comfortable with firefighters, teach them about what to do in the event of a fire and more.
This year, the lessons are going virtual.
Summit Fire will be sending local teachers videos of drills and lessons to show their students, informing the youngest kids about things like what a smoke alarm sounds like and what they should do when it goes off as well as diving into more comprehensive fire safety talks with older students. Summit Fire spokesperson Steve Lipsher said the district also would be making firefighters available for live in-person or virtual chats with students at the request of teachers.
“It’s a lot different from what we have done in past years,” Lipsher said. “We typically go into the classrooms and do these sessions with the students. But we obviously want to be considerate of the instructional time that teachers have this year, and the difficulties of hybrid and online education slowing things down. So we’re trying to make it a concise process, but hopefully still a meaningful one that students will come back to with good retention.”
Crews with the Red, White & Blue have been working over the past several weeks producing their own in-house safety videos that will be delivered to elementary and preschools in Breckenridge next week. The district is also putting together some clips for adult audiences that will be available daily on the district’s website starting Sunday, Oct. 4.
Red, White & Blue is also replacing its annual open house with a new idea. Each year, the fire department hosts an open house that brings together more than 600 residents in the area to learn safety tips from firefighters, law enforcement, Red Cross and more. This year, the district decided to produce a cookbook filled with safety tips and recipes submitted by community partners.
“Every year, the theme for the week changes. And this year, it’s all about kitchen safety,” Keating said. “That’s what the idea really grew out of. We had different restaurants in the Breckenridge area, Breck police, public health and all of the organizations we partner with enter recipes. It grew from an idea of a 20-page cookbook to now a 106-page cookbook that has recipes, a history of the Red, White & Blue and little safety messages on every page.”
The cookbooks will be available on the district’s website Sunday, and printed copies will be available for free pickup at the downtown Breckenridge fire station and other businesses later this month.
While Fire Prevention Week will look a little different this year, officials said that observing the occasion and making community outreach efforts was still vital and that parents in the community should take the opportunity to educate themselves and their children on fire safety.
Lipsher recommended that parents talk to their kids about the many dangers of playing in the kitchen, all the ways they can escape the home in the event of a fire, meeting places in an emergency and more. He also advocated for letting kids help test the fire alarms in the home so they are familiar with the noise.
“Those are some of the highlights of the lessons we teach, and I think it’s great when parents can reinforce those lessons,” Lipsher said.
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