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Throughout the month of October, fire departments around the country will visit schools in their district, putting on presentations to educate the students about fire safety. This year, the Neligh Volunteer Fire Department decided to bring students in for a more in-depth education.
Members of the Neligh Volunteer Fire Department have been hosting Junior Fire Patrol each Sunday evening so far this month. The program is designed to educate students in grades 3-6 on fire prevention and safety in a fun and engaging manner.
“With October being fire prevention month, we just thought this would be another fun way to help teach kids fire safety,” said firefighter Cris Kurpgeweit. “There are many similar programs being put on at other departments and we wanted to give kids a chance to enjoy the classes around here.”
The program has been offered in Neligh off-and-on for a number of years. After going a few years without it, a number of firefighters, including Kurpgeweit, decided it was time to bring it back. The classes run each Sunday throughout October from 6 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. In general, the students spend about 30 minutes in a classroom session before spending an hour doing hands-on activities to keep them engaged in their learning.
“We really try to keep it as fun as possible,” said firefighter Logan Lawson. “The kids sit in class five days a week. We know that there are a few things that need to be covered in the classroom, but we prefer to use our resources and equipment to give them a chance to enjoy fire prevention education.”
During the first week, much of the time was dedicated to learning about the fire department and teaching the students what to do when they hear the fire sirens. During week two, students worked on home escape plans, fire hazards and staying low under the smoke. The next three weeks will focus on fire extinguishers and getting familiar with other first responders before wrapping up with a costume party to celebrate the end of the class. Each class is designed to focus on a specific activity that the department believes all kids should know.
“A number of our firefighters, myself included, took part in Junior Fire Patrol when we were younger and have great memories of it.” said Lawson. “It is important to us that the kids learn many of these things as it can keep them safe, keep their families safe and help make our job easier.”
With this year being the first year back in a number of years, it is a bit of a learning opportunity for the firefighters as well. Kurpgeweit said that the flexibility of the students and firefighters during the program has been great in building the program for the future.
“It has taken a lot of volunteers a lot of time to make this program work,” he said. “We’ve had to adjust on the fly a bit and everyone has worked well. We are learning what works best for the kids and hope we are setting a strong foundation for a great program in the future. We want these third graders to get excited for next year and keep coming back until they are sixth graders and encourage younger kids to do the same.”