HFD shares safety tips during visit to summer reading program

By GRAHAM BROOKS / Staff Writer

HELENA–Several kids who attended the Helena Summer Reading Program the afternoon of June 27, will now have further knowledge and understanding of what to do during a fire or emergency, thanks to a visit from the Helena Fire Department.

Several members of the Helena Fire Department took the time to visit the program where they answered questions, described what constitutes an emergency and emphasized the importance of having a fire safety plan. Helena Fire Captain Chaed Agee said each family should have a safe meeting point and escape plan in case of a fire, while also demonstrating where to go in a house so firefighters can more easily find you.

“It’s important to have a safe meeting point such as your mailbox or your neighbor’s house,” Agee said. “If your parents are at the mailbox but your sister is somewhere else and you’re in the backyard then that isn’t going to help us out if there’s a fire and we’re trying to find you.”

Agee demonstrated how firefighters will enter a room and walk close to the wall. He said it’s important to stay low and sit near a wall if trapped in a room so the firefighters can find you while doing a sweep of the room.

Once the safety tips were complete, another Helena firefighter at the program put on a full uniform including a mask and air tank to show how they stay protected when fighting a fire.

Agee said the clothes and equipment firefighters put on typically weigh between 85-90 pounds and a gallon of water weighs a little more than 8.5 pounds.

To round out the visit, children followed the firefighters over to the station where they got to see the living area, garage and the firetrucks.

Agee showed off Helena Fire Engine 61 as well as the newest ladder truck that was added to the fleet a few years ago. He showed how equipment was used on the truck and the variety of tools.

“This ladder truck can reach 78 feet in height and can pump 1,500 gallons of water per minute,” Agee said.

The visit from the Helena Fire Department left an impression on first grader Sam Schell who said he learned several things he didn’t know before the program.

“I learned that if you think there’s a fire you can feel a door with the back of your hand so you don’t get burned,” Schell said. “I also know to get on the floor against a wall if there’s a fire.”

The Helena Summer Reading program will last a few more weeks and participants will be eligible for prizes the more books they read. Some highlights of the summer reading program will include a visit with the Helena Police Department and the closeout celebration featuring musician Jim Aycock.

The remaining schedule for the summer reading program is as follows:

–July 11–Visit with the police department–2:30 p.m.

–July 18–Summer reading closeout celebration featuring musician Jim Aycock–2:30 p.m.

In addition to the summer reading program, the Jane B. Holmes library will also host Lego fun on July 16.