Fermilab firefighters teach children about fire safety
A Fermilab firefighter in full gear crawls past children at the Fermilab Children's Center to simulate a rescue operation.
As part of fire prevention month, Fermilab Fire Department Cmdr. Chuck Kuhn visited the laboratory's daycare center on Wednesday and did his best Darth Vader impression.
Although he and the other firefighters arrived in plain clothes and told the children the do's and don'ts of fire safety, they eventually donned fire-retardant coats, helmets, boots and air tanks.
Kuhn wants the children to know that firefighters look different when they get ready to rescue someone from a smoke-filled room than they look in most story books.
"The air tank and mask give us a clear view," said Kuhn, "But we're totally covered up so that you really can't see us."
And the air tank, Kuhn said, makes him sound just like the villain Darth Vader from the Star Wars movies.
The raspy breathing and covered face can scare children, causing them to hide from a rescuer. So Kuhn's visit to the daycare works to dispel that fear now, before the children find themselves in a fire.
The firefighters put on all of their gear and crawled past the children to show them what firefighters look and sound like during an emergency. "This way they know not to be afraid," Kuhn said. 'They know they should reach out and let us help them."
The firefighters have taught fire prevention at the daycare for the last 12 years. Kuhn said that the children's knowledge of fire safety is impressive. "A lot of them will surprise you," he said. "They know who to call, not to hide under the bed or in the closet and not to play with matches."
-- Haley Bridger
Children at the Fermilab Children's Center get to know Sparky the dog, a fire prevention mascot.