Junior Fire Corps Offers Short Fire-safety Skits to Layton Schools

Friday, 17 February 2012

By: April Hale, Standard-Examiner correspondent

LAYTON -- Layton City Fire Department officials want to make sure preschool-aged children know what in their home is hot and potentially dangerous.
 
Junior Fire Corps, a new facet of the city's established Fire Corps, enlists sixth-grade students to teach younger students about fire safety.
 
The pilot program enlisted students from King Elementary School to perform a short fire-safety skit led by the characters Phoebe Fire and Reminder Man.
 
Phoebe Fire repeatedly tempts children to improperly use objects such as stoves, irons and fireplaces around the home.
 
Reminder Man continually saves the day by reminding kids what is safe and what is not.
 
At the end of the skit, firefighter Doug Bitton discusses fire safety with the preschoolers.
 
Layton's Fire Corps was established in 2007, using retired firefighters to provide volunteer support such as hydration, rest and food at emergency scenes.

The program expanded to involve students from Layton's two high schools, Northridge and Layton, who educate elementary students about fire safety by performing skits they write themselves.
 
"The sixth-graders were getting a little old for the programs, so we decided to use them as the Junior Fire Corps," said Dean Hunt, fire marshal.
 
Organizers identified preschoolers as a high-risk group because of their intense curiosity. They decided to create a means to educate the preschoolers on the dangers within the home.

As this is the junior program's pilot year, it involves only King Elementary sixth-graders, who plan to perform their skit at several elementary schools this spring.
 
Coordinators hope to partner with PTAs to establish a Junior Fire Corps at each of the city's 15 elementary schools by next year.
 
Officials said the goal is to get preschoolers to attend the assembly every year instead of going to the fire station for a field trip.
 
"Children seem to learn better from their peers. We can do the lights and sirens that the kids enjoy at the fire station, but we want to make sure they are learning as much as possible," Hunt said.
 
He said the city has seen an 18.5 percent decrease in major fires since starting the program.

Mayor Steve Curtis viewed the Junior Fire Corps performance for the Head Start students at Whitesides Elementary.
 
"It's fun to see the excitement in the (preschoolers') eyes, especially having their peers doing it," he said.
 
"I think it's beneficial as far as the learning process because they are captivated by their peers, and it helps the younger kids anticipate the time when they will be able to teach."
 
Angie Paskett's 12-year-old son, Kevin, participates in the program.

"As they teach, they learn at the same time," she said. "It helps them instill those same principles in their own homes."
   
Kaitlyn George, 12, enjoys being involved with the Junior Fire Corps, especially because her older brother is involved with the Fire Corps at the high school level, said her mother, Nancy George.
 
"Our volunteer coordinator, Natalie Tholen, helps spread (word about the program)," Hunt said. "She has been the key to its success by donating over 800 hours last year."
   
Tholen spent many after-school hours working with the sixth-graders to make sure the skit was educational and entertaining.
 
"Fire Corps has been instrumental in educating a lot of youth within the city," Curtis said. "It's a program that I feel is an essential part of safety education." 

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