An interagency fire prevention team has been busy engaging Butte County youth with a dynamic and interactive approach to teaching fire prevention and other safety information.
During the second week of March, North Valley Fire PALS (Prevention and Life Safety) visited several schools throughout the county’s North Valley area, including Sierra, Fletcher Walker, and Chester elementary schools, and St. Thomas Catholic School.
The Fire PALS team engaged students by using a variety show approach, employing clowns, puppets, famous character impressions, and skits. The goal of the program is to help kids build a solid foundation of safe practices by entertaining students while teaching them a variety of life safety skills.
Over the five day period, close to 2,000 students learned about things like how to properly call 911, EDITH (Exit Drills In The Home), matches/lighters vs. toys, and seatbelt, bike helmet, gun, and water safety.
“It is extremely encouraging to see, when the program is over, the students talking with each other about the topics they just learned,” said Stacy Kronner, a fire prevention specialist with the Lassen National Forest, who is also a part of the Fire PALS team. “You realize the safety message got through and they will continue to share it,” she added.
Kronner said that information retention has been shown to improve the more students interact with the learning material. And with lots of hands-on activity, the Fire PALS program is both exciting and memorable for the students. According to Kronner, as of 2010, there were four documented “saves” as a result of the program, which has been around for more than 10 years.
One example she provided involved a child who was able to tell his parents they should call 911 after their space heater caught on fire. The child also suggested they should meet at their “Family Meeting Area”- a concept learned while discussing EDITH principals during a PALS presentation.
The Fire PALS program is a collaborative effort among CalFire’s Butte and Tehama-Glenn units, the Paradise, Oroville, and El Medio fire departments, Butte County Sheriff’s Office, and the Lassen National Forest.
For more information about this program or fire prevention on the Forest, you may contact Stacy Kronner, Almanor Ranger District Fire Prevention Tech, at 530-258-5163.