The Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) program has been in Princeton since 1998. Started by then Chief Charles P. Schmohl Jr., the SAFE program brought Fire and Life Safety Education to the children of Princeton. Every year the Princeton Fire Department applies for funding in the form of a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services. This grant allows the department to place firefighters and EMT’s in the classrooms at the Thomas Prince School.
The members of TEAM SAFE instruct students in a number of Fire and Life Safety Behaviors.
Listed here are a few:
- Proper use of the 911 Emergency Calling System
- Stop, Drop and Roll when your clothes catch fire
- Crawling low under smoke in a fire
- Preparing and practicing Exit Drills in the Home (EDITH)
- Home Fire Safety Checks
- Proper use of Smoke and CO Detectors
For the last 4 years the Members of Team SAFE have visited the Kindergarten in the Fall during Fire Prevention Week. In the Spring, Team SAFE instructors visited each 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade classroom for an hour a week over a three-week period. Each grade level has an age appropriate curriculum developed in cooperation with firefighters and experienced teachers. The program culminates with a Fire Safety Day in April or May where the children go outside for an interactive program that include a trip through the Fire Safety House.
The Fire Safety house has different props to reinforce classroom teachings. Some of these include a heated door that children can feel before they choose that door as an exit. A phone that they can choose to call 911 from in the house, (children are taught to call 911 from a neighbors house). The house also has a kitchen to teach kitchen safety. Most importantly, the house carries a smoke machine that produces a NON-TOXIC smoke. This is the children’s favorite. As the house fills with smoke the smoke detectors go off and the children can practice crawling low under the smoke and exiting the building, going to the meeting place then calling 911 for help.
For the first time last year the Princeton Fire Department sponsored four 4th graders attendance at the SAFE Summer Camp. This one-day program allowed 4 students to learn more about fire safety and the fire service. Some of the activities included a visit to the Fire Safety House with Firefighter Tim Howe of Holden where match and lighter safety in the kitchen was taught. After the lesson the smoke machine filled the house with smoke and the children were given the opportunity to exit from the second floor balcony into the arms of waiting firefighters.
The State Hazardous Materials Truck also visited allowing the children to try on the suits that Firemen wear when dealing with Hazardous materials. (See picture). The State Fire Marshal’s Office sent a State Police Arson sniffing dog for the children to meet and see in action. The day culminates with a mini-muster similar to the one on the Princeton Common in September 2001. The kids get to connect hoses (with the assistance of a firefighter) and flow water through a hose toward a target. The teams are timed to determine a winner. In July 2001 the blue team (all girls) took first place. Princeton hopes to sponsor at least 4 more children to the Summer Camp this year.
The SAFE program gives firefighters and EMT’s the opportunity to get familiar with some of the children in Princeton. This allows us to have a rapport with the children if we are ever called to their home for a fire or ambulance call. This proved to be very important on September 4th 2001, when a 4th grader called 911 for her brother who was choking. Her 1st grade sister ran to the street to flag down arriving emergency units. Mom was able to dislodge most of the candy from the 4 year old’s throat. Police and EMT’s were able to dislodge the rest. The children were recognized by the State Fire Marshal as SAFE Heroes. They took lessons learned in the SAFE program and helped to save a life. To date there have been over 100 SAFE Heroes in Massachusetts since the start of the SAFE
The SAFE program continues today supported by a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services. Funding for the grant comes from Tobacco Tax revenues. The Program in Princeton is also supported by funds from the Princeton Firefighters and EMT’s Association. Donations are gratefully accepted. Please feel free to contact Team SAFE at:
Princeton Fire Department
8 Town Hall Drive
Princeton, MA 01541