Ga. students see that clothes make the firefighter
By JAKE JACOBS
Fire safety was the hot topic on a cold Tuesday morning at Perry Primary School.
Firefighter Charles Mundy of the Perry Fire Department, assisted by mascot Sparkie the Fire Pup, entertained and educated first-graders on fire safety.
Mundy, who has performed the informative shows at schools and at the fire station, said before the show that one of his more important activities is wearing his firefighting suit in front of the children.
"We do it so they won't be scared when they see someone who looks like Darth Vader in their home," Mundy said.
Other activities include stressing fire safety tips and smoke detector awareness, he said.
Mundy was assisted by Michael Land, dressed as Sparkie the Fire Pup.
October is national Fire Prevention Month. The Great Chicago Fire took place on Oct. 9, 1871, according to the National Fire Protection Web site.
As the first-graders filed out in the crisp morning air, Sparkie waved and shook eagerly outstretched hands.
Debora Russell, assistant principal for learning at the school, introduced Mundy and told the children to listen carefully to what he had to say about fire safety.
"Glad you guys could come," Mundy said. "Who knows what a smoke detector does?"
About 40 arms shot up in the air.
"It goes off when there's smoke in the house, and. . ." said a small voice.
"That's right, that's really all you need to know," Mundy said. "If you don't have one at your house you can come by the fire station and we'll give you one."
Mundy then went over some fire safety tips, such as leaving matches and lighters alone. He then asked, "What do you do when a piece of your clothing is on fire? Do you run?"
"Noooo!" the children answered.
"Do you do jumping jacks?"
"Well, what do you do?"
"Stop, drop and roll!" the children answered in one voice.
Mundy then said he would put on his fire gear so they wouldn't be afraid if and when they ever saw him in their home.
"First, I put on my hood to protect my head and hair," he said, eliciting a few giggles as students pointed to Mundy's clean-shaven head.
Mundy then stepped into the boots, pulled the pants up, put on the jacket and reached for the oxygen tank.
"I use this air tank because I don't want to breathe in smoke," he said to the quiet but attentive audience.
A small boy spoke up. "How do you carry all that heavy stuff?" he asked.
"Oh, we have to be in shape and do a lot of exercising," Mundy said. "Now don't be afraid when you see me with this mask and elephant trunk," he said, putting the oxygen mask over his face. He then put on his helmet and gloves.
"It's still me," he announced to the children. "Are you going to run from me?"
"Nooo!" they answered.
Mundy and Sparkie went down the line of students, exchanging high-fives with them.
"Do you ever get burned in those clothes?" asked a young girl.
"No," Mundy said. "These are made to withstand a lot of heat, but they're not fireproof. If I stay too long in one place they'll catch on fire. What we do is come in the burning house real quick, help you guys out and then get out real quick. Who wants to see the truck?"
Amid a chorus of assenting voices, Mundy quickly got out of his firefighting suit as Sparkie clowned for the students, who laughed as a gust of wind blew up the back of his jacket, revealing his tail's attachment.
The students then went through the truck in single file and pointed at the equipment they knew, such as the axe, the shovel and, of course, the hoses.
Russell said the school has been promoting fire safety throughout the month.
"We want them to be aware of safety procedures as families turn on their heaters for the first time when weather gets cooler," she said.