“How many of you know what to do if the fire alarm goes off here at school?” asked risk reduction specialist Einar Jensen with South Metro Fire Rescue, during an outreach class to third-graders …
“How many of you know what to do if the fire alarm goes off here at school?” asked risk reduction specialist Einar Jensen with South Metro Fire Rescue, during an outreach class to third-graders at American Academy Motsenbocker campus in Parker.
All the students raised their hands.
“How many of you know what to do at home if there's a fire?” he asked.
Two students raised their hands.
That answer, according to Jensen, is pretty common among students, and is one of the reasons for the outreach classes provided by the community risk reduction unit.
“Here at school, you all know what to do because of school fire drills. Last year, 2,200 people died in house fires. Guess how many died in school fires?” Jensen asked. According to Jensen, there have been no deaths in a school fire since 1958.
His goal is to send each student home with the knowledge necessary to create a home fire escape plan for their entire family.
Jensen first spoke of smoke alarms in the home, and told students they should begin by having their parents check the dates on theirs. They are only good for 10 years, after that time, according to Jensen, they lose their ability to detect smoke. He also showed students how to check the batteries in their smoke alarms.
“I need you to tell your parents to check your alarms, and stop calling the fire department when the batteries are low and it chirps,” he joked.
Students had many questions for Jensen, including: “How can the firemen save my whole family if we are trapped?” Jensen told students if they were trapped on an upper floor and could not flee a fire, they should open the window, drape a blanket out the window and close it, and first responders would know where to search.
After escaping the fire, Jensen directed each student to plan a family meeting area in front of their home, perhaps by the big tree out front.
“What if the tree catches on fire?” asked Mason, a student.
Jensen answered questions candidly and honestly, and ended the class by having each student draw a sample fire escape map. He also challenged students to participate in the Great Colorado Fire Drill. Students who complete a fire drill with their family, and take a picture, can email the photo to ReducingRisk@southmetro.org and receive coupons for free ice cream.
Jensen said teaching prevention and safety is satisfying and a nice change from putting out fires.
“I was a firefighter for 15 years, and spent a lot of time waiting for emergencies to occur. Now I'm teaching prevention,” he said.
Jensen and fellow risk reduction specialist Colleen Potton provide educational services to classes in schools within Douglas County, ranging from basic info for third-graders up to advanced information for eighth-graders. They also work within the community including hospitals, assisted living centers and wildfire mitigation.