Last week, Lord Baltimore Elementary students crowded into their gymnasium for the culmination of fire prevention week, with an awards ceremony for students.
“They look forward to it every year,” said LB Principal Dr. Janet Hickman. “It’s always the highlight of the month of October for our students. The firemen come in and explain the essays and the posters that the children are going to be completing, and they bring fire safety to their attention.”
During the week, kids were able to visit the firehouse, tour fire trucks and ambulances, and practice an evacuation of a smoke house.
“We had to get down and crawl,” said second-grader Thomas Gogarty of the practice evacuation, adding that touring the ambulance was cool but “weird.” “It felt weird because there wasn’t that much space, and it felt weird because there were tons of boxes and there was a box above my head.”
“On Fire Prevention Day, firefighters come in and they go room to room, and each grade level does different activities,” explained Hickman. “The fifth-grade activity was one where they put out a fire on the playground using a fire extinguisher. That’s something that kids — they hear about fire extinguishers, and many of them have it at home, but to use it and see what it’s like, is a very exciting initiative for them. Of course, the firemen are there to supervise and keep them safe and teach them importance being safe.”
Along with the activities students participated in with firefighters from both Millville and Bethany Beach volunteer fire companies, each grade was given a poster or essay topic, and they spent a couple weeks working on their submissions, both in and out of the classroom.
“The kids do put a lot of effort into it,” noted Hickman.
The posters and essays are then given to the fire companies to judge and select winners for each grade.
Each winner’s class received a pizza party, and fifth-grade winners received $100, $75, and $50 for first, second and third prizes, respectively. Student winners were:
• Pre-kindergarten: first place, Elizabeth Labros; second place, Bruce Sarafa;
• Kindergarten: first place, Cassidy White; second place, Michaela McDowell; third place, Gabriel Young;
• First grade: first place, Brynn Crandell; second place, Madison Felker; third place, Max Case;
• Second grade: first place, Sienna Scordo; second place, Kendall Cathell; third place, Mya MacDonald;
• Third grade: first place, Kaitlyn Vogel; second place, Emma Ruley; third place, Michaela Lewis;
• ILC: Poster – Gabriel Dorman; Essay – Jack Corrigan;
• Fourth grade: first place, Tyler Blades; second place, Christopher Perdue; third place, Logan Wilson;
• Fifth grade: first place, Patrick Gogarty; second place, Caroline Powell; third place, Kree Lowe;
First-place winner Patrick Gogarty was also awarded a brand-new bike from the fire company.
“I wanted to win once in elementary school,” said Gogarty, who added that he wasn’t expecting to win.
Gogarty’s essay focused on how to prevent kitchen fires and thoroughly described how people can take extra precautions to prevent fires.
“Fourty-one percent of house fires start in the kitchen area and cause 15 percent of the home fire deaths,” wrote Gogarty. “Most of these fires can be prevented by following basic fire safety tips. Limit distractions such as computer, television or telephones. Never leave the stove unattended while cooking. Always turn pot handles toward the back of the stove to prevent burns and stove top fires.”
An honorable mention was given to fifth-grader Trey Kauffman, who not only turned in an essay on the assigned “dangers in the kitchen” essay but also turned in a second essay, writing about what being a firefighter means to him.
“This past week, a young fireman lost his life in a car accident on his way to a fire call. This is so sad. These volunteer firemen respond to the calls because they want to, not because they get paid to,” wrote Kauffman, whose father and grandfather are volunteer firefighters. “They risk their lives every time they have a call. When something like this happens, all the fire companies come together. I have heard they call each other brothers. They take care of each other and look out for each other.”
“Big or small, it doesn’t matter. They respond the same… I just wanted to let someone know what I think about all of the firemen out there. Whether they get paid or not, they just help us all. They help us all, and thank you to all the firemen who keep us safe.”
Hickman said that the week is a positive learning experience for students.
“Every year, you hear of someone who has had some kind of fire, some kind of problem in their home, and this is a really wonderful way for kids to, in a positive and fun way, learn all the dangers and to be prepared,” she said.
“With the kids, when they’re little, they don’t think of firemen with the masks and the oxygen tanks and the big helmets and all this stuff. Having seen people dressed up in this attire, I don’t think they’d be scared if a fireman had to come to their house,” Hickman added. “They’re prepared for it better. So it’s really a great community event.”
Hickman added that the school is appreciative of all the fire companies do for the students.
“The firemen are all volunteers, and for them to give this much time and effort… just to keep kids safe. It’s always a fun day, it’s something we all look forward to.”