Longmont’s fire safety house teaches lessons to live by


Hints from the Longmont Fire Department

Make a map of your home, marking all smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, windows and doors.

Learn two ways to escape every room.

Establish a meeting place in front of your house for your family to gather after evacuating.

Have smoke detectors on every floor and near each bedroom. Test them once a month and change the batteries twice a year.

For more information: See ci.longmont.co.us/fire/fire_safety/homefiresafetychecklist.htm

HYGIENE — When your house is on fire, if you have time, is it

OK to go to the closet and get a flashlight?

One Hygiene Elementary School third-grader asked that question of Stephanie Thai, the Longmont Fire Department’s public education coordinator, on Wednesday.

The problem with getting a flashlight — or anything else — from a burning house is that you don’t know how much time you have, Thai told the students in Tricia Fixmer’s class.

Inside the Longmont Fire Department’s safety house trailer, students don’t just hear about fire safety. They actually practice it. Inside the front door, a small kitchen features an oven and stove. To the right, stairs go up to what would be bedrooms.

Before the students practiced escaping, though, they had to learn how to prepare for a fire.

After they watched a video, Thai taught the students how to draw maps of their homes so the could plan their escape if their houses ever have a fire.

On the map, she told the students to mark where the smoke alarms are, as well as all the doors and windows.

“You never know what might be the closest way out,” Thai said.

She showed them how to check for a hot door, using the back sides of their hands, so they don’t open the door to a fire.

“Doors are not hot,” Thai said. “If it’s hot, do you want to go out that way?” she asked the students, who responded with a resounding, “No!” It’s important to know two ways out of every room, she said. But practicing the use of those exits is vital, as well.


used to going in and out the same way all the time,” Thai said.

If you are trapped in a room and can open a window, she told the students, lean out, wave your arms and yell so the firefighters notice you and can rescue you.

“You can’t be wimpy when you are getting the firefighters’ attention,” Thai said.

She also explained the importance of a family having one meeting place to gather after evacuating a home. That meeting place should be in the front of the house — in a neighbor’s driveway, at the mailbox or near a tree, for example — so firefighters can immediately find out if everyone escaped, she said.

“Firefighters can see you more quickly there,” Thai said.

To drive home the lessons about evacuating a burning house, Thai took the children to the second floor of the safety house, then turned on a fake smoke machine — the smoke smelled like baking sugar cookies — and a smoke alarm, and turned off the lights.

Because smoke rises, she told the children to crawl through the house when they are trying to leave.

“I don’t want to see any slowpoke crawling during this fire drill because we know how fast fire moves,” Thai said.

As they headed, one by one, down the stairs, Thai reminded them to crawl backward so they didn’t fall and hurt their heads.

Crawling down the stairs was the hardest part of the drill, said 8-year-old Bella Wozny, who lives in Longmont.

On the ground floor, students crawled to the front door and checked its temperature. A special panel heats the door, prompting children to move to another exit.

From the front door to the back, they crawled along the wall. Crawling in the middle of the room can cause you to get lost, Thai said.

“Firefighters know walls will lead them to doors and windows,” Thai said. “The wall will take you to places where you can get out.”

Even though it was fake, the smoke filled the room and made it impossible to see more than a few inches away.

Eight-year-old Walter Parker said his favorite part of the lesson was crawling through the smoke.

“I was just down the stairs and then it was all white,” he said. “It was fun because you couldn’t really see and you didn’t know what was going to happen next.”

Victoria Camron can be reached at 303-684-5226 or vcamron@times-call.com.

More Safety Info:

  1. Fifth-graders learn safety lessons during annual event
  2. Home Depot hosts fire safety day in Vernon Hills
  3. Home safety checklist: Safety supplies to have around the house
  4. Fire Safety at home – WALA
  5. Tips For National Home Safety Month


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