GP fire prevention team takes over

THE BIG TIPS — Calling 911 isn’t for kids who fight with siblings or don’t want to do their homework, as a team of officers noted at the start of an interactive presentation on the fire safety and education at Defer Primary School last Friday. It is, however, very much intended for the unlikely event of a fire in a child’s home.

The Grosse Pointe Fire Prevention Team was formed before the pandemic by Stephen Poloni, who was director of public safety for the city and park at the time, but only recently became active as the pandemic made access to schools dangerous. .

Although Poloni has always had the work at heart, originally starting a school fire program in 1989, the creation of the current fire prevention team followed a tragic house fire on Fisher Road in 2019 .

Photo by Renée Landuyt
The Grosse Pointe fire prevention team gives safety advice to third grade students at Defer Elementary School.

“I think it highlighted the need to do more than what we were doing,” Poloni said.

With two officers from each of the Pointes volunteering to be part of the team, his intention is to visit one primary school per month, including private schools, and to see each on an annual basis.

The team has already debuted at Maire, Kerby and Richard elementary schools.

“There are fewer fires now than 20 years ago, but fire prevention is just as important because it prevents tragedies (and) it spreads information, said John Alcorn, director of security public of Grosse Pointe. “When you give kids an idea of ​​what to do in an emergency, that’s what they can fall back on and that’s the idea: here’s how we prevent it and if something bad happens happens, here’s what you do.”

As well as providing students with a toolkit of knowledge on how best to protect themselves and help firefighters save them – from ways to get out of the house to what to do once out – a member of the team dons their full fire gear as well, with the intention of acquainting the younger students.

“A kid is in a scary situation to begin with, then you bring in a firefighter with all their gear, helmet, mask, self-contained breathing apparatus (and) it can be an intimidating figure,” Alcorn explained. “They sound different. They breathe differently. So we let them see. We let them see what’s going on and why we’re wearing it, what it does and it gives them a chance to see it in a controlled, friendly environment, so they understand a bit more.

Emphasized during each presentation, students are not expected to come away with fear of an impending fire.

“It’s a matter of education and safety,” Alcorn said. “It’s not about fear. That’s the biggest thing in these demos that we talk about (how) you see fires on a campfire or we use the fire to cook our food. There’s nothing to be scared of. You just have to be careful and respect it. »

Thanks to Poloni’s 40-year relationship and the generosity of several community members, approximately $35,000 was raised for the program. The funds were used to distribute personalized equipment for children, team uniforms, high-tech equipment and robots to be used during special events.

Members of the Fire Prevention Team are Team Leader Thomas Card and Park Officer Esho Matty, City Officers Austin Giarmo and Jarod Jones, Farms Officer John Ross and Firefighter Larry Stocking , Sgt. Terry Brown and Officer Jeffery Roybal of the Shores and Officers Miles Adams and Jeff Martel of the Woods.

Fire Safety Tips for Kids

Get out of the house before calling 911.

When leaving the house, “stay low and go”.

Leave pets behind so firefighters can rescue them.

If the fire is blocking your child’s path to a sibling, the child must get out first so they can tell the fire department where the sibling is.

If the door is hot, do not open it.

Tucking a blanket or clothing under the door can help keep smoke out.

Make sure your child knows how to open their bedroom window. If it does not open, the child must know that he can break it with a chair, a toy, etc.

If your child’s bedroom is on the second floor, consider getting an escape ladder that hangs from the window and can be stored under the child’s bed.

Children may instinctively want to hide in a closet or under the bed, but this makes it difficult for firefighters to rescue them. If the child cannot get out immediately, he should shout out the window to let everyone know where he is.

Without a ladder and in an emergency, the child may have to jump. Officers noted that it is safer to jump out of the second-story window than to breathe in the noxious smoke or be near a fire that could come through the door.

If the child is stuck in an area of ​​the house without a window, such as a bathroom, he should keep the door closed to save time and make a lot of noise for the firefighters to follow him.

Decide on a family reunion location. This could be the mailbox, a large tree in the front yard, or a neighbor’s house.

“Close before you go to sleep.” Sleeping with the bedroom door closed can prevent the spread of fire and give your child more time with clean air.

Do not place clothing or fabrics on or near lamps or heaters.