The sound of a fire truck siren startles some students during a visit to the Fort Bayou Volunteer Fire Department. Several hundred youngsters from St. Martin East Elementary are getting an up-close look at what their neighborhood firefighters do.
Fire Captain Lyle Crandall said "We show them what the firemen wear, as far as gear, what kind of equipment we use, the ladders, the hose, the jaws of life". Kindergartner Jacob Goff said "I liked it when they showed me the tools, and how they rescue people".
More importantly, the children are learning about the dangers of fire-play and how to escape if a fire ignites in their homes. According to the United States Fire Administration, more than 800 children under the age of ten die in home fires every year. Lauren Thomas said "When there's a fire, feel the door. If it's hot, don't go. If it's cold, you can".
The children are also learning that firefighters are their friends. When fire trucks and firefighters show up at a burning house, that can be intimidating for the youngsters. That's why the firefighters want to make sure they ease those children's fears.
Crandall said "A lot of kids, they get scared. They'll either stay where they are or they'll actually hide. We try to get them understand that when they see us in all this space suit type stuff, to not be afraid".
Firefighters say it's important to catch the children's attention when they're young, hoping the lessons will stick with them for a lifetime.