Wiggins FD adds a little humor to fire prevention class

Published: Oct. 20, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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WIGGINS, Miss. (WLOX) - During fire prevention month, it’s important to get the message of safety to everyone - the younger, the better.

The Wiggins Fire Department has been delivering that message a little differently for at least 30 years.

The annual trip to the Wiggins Fire Department is more like a parade. Children from the nearby First Baptist Church pre-school take the short hike across Magnolia Drive, just as their parents once did.

“I remember coming to the fire department. I remember being at the fire station. But it was the walk,” said parent Janae Smith. “Like, my mom was with me. It was such a big deal to leave the pre-school.”

Now, Smith has been able to share that experience with her children.

“I’m able to tell them, ‘Oh, my gosh. When we get to the fire department, Mr. Shane’s going to be doing this.’ And they think it’s cool that I already know what’s going to happen. So, they’re like, ‘How does Mama already know?’ Because I’ve been here a lot.”

Mr. Shane is Shane Breland, a Wiggins firefighter, educator and part-time comic.

He throws that last part in for free.

“Just the sheer excitement of the kids,” Breland said. “It’s teaching them and seeing their faces light up when we teach them. It just makes me happy. You know? It makes me feel like we’re doing what we’re supposed to do.”

Both he and Chief Jody Hatten experienced the program back when they were students at First Baptist Church preschool.

Now, it’s their turn to keep the legacy going.

“When we started out, it was not nearly as good. It has improved,” Hatten said. “Shane’s done a tremendous job in improving this program to make it entertaining for the kids. They learn by laughing and having fun. They will remember that stuff.”

FBC preschool director Emily Overstreet said it is a great extension to the school’s curriculum.

“Shane, Jody and all the other firemen here do a great job getting down on the kids’ level and teaching the very basics of fire safety for them.”

And it makes a difference to teach the basics with style.

“If we ever see fire, they’re like, ‘Remember what they said at the fire department? Stop, drop and roll?’ " Smith said. “So, it really does, it truly does stick with them.”

The Wiggins Fire Department teaches the program throughout the district, but the only one taught at the station is with First Baptist Church preschool.

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