INDIANAPOLIS — Remember the day in school when firefighters would show up on their firetruck decked head to toe in their full firefighting gear? If you were lucky they’d let you turn on the siren. Well, because of the pandemic kids in school didn’t get a chance to have that day.
“Basically, since March we’ve not been able to talk to any kids,” said Division Chief of Public Information Courtney Rice with the Wayne Township Fire Department. “We’ve not been able to see them in school. We haven’t been able to continue that mission, which is what we’ve done for years.”
Their mission he says is that it’s not just about putting fires out, and being there quickly, but also getting out into the community and spreading the message to be safe.
Part of Rice’s job is managing the Public Education Department. He says since they can no longer go to schools, and schools have gone virtual, they’ve had to go virtual as well when it comes to teaching kids fire safety.
“We’ve created a YouTube channel, and as we get the library up we’re going to be making that available so that a teacher can download that straight from YouTube.”
He says the videos are around three to five minutes and cover a variety of topics kids may face at home. He says an example of videos is not putting a heater too close to the wall, or not playing with matches or candles.
A bonus, he says the kids still get to see firetrucks and firefighters even if it’s just in a video.
Rice says virtual learning is a unique situation where teachers are seeing kids in their homes where a potential fire, like the one he responded to on Wednesday, could happen.
He said a student at Saint Anthony Catholic School was in class when he told his teacher he had to go because his house was on fire. Rice thanked the teacher, Kenneth Weaver, himself and said what Weaver told the child in that moment was the right thing.
“Telling the boy not to try to put the fire out, actually leave and call 911, let firemen take care of the fire because a lot of kids might try to throw something on it to try to put it out.”
Because of what the teacher said, he says, both kids in the house were able to get out, and neither of them was injured in any way.