Sunday October 6 began National Fire Prevention Week across the U.S. sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association. This year’s theme is, “Not Every Hero Wears a Cape. Plan and Practice Your Escape!”
At Buchanan Elementary School, principal Ryan Noyes, a Pierre resident for life minus his time at Black Hills State University to earn his teaching degree, was ready to help his students learn about fire prevention and awareness.
“I remember attending the assembly here as a student,” Noyes said. “We got little red hats.”
The students with the help of their teachers and staff filed into the well-lit and perfectly miniature gymnasium like a choreographed exercise in cat herding.
Excited, but polite, the students cheered at the introduction of the Pierre Fire Chief Ian Paul and his crew of fire personnel, including three cadets.
Paul, after his brief intro by Noyes, introduced assistant fire chief Paula Tronvold, resident of Pierre now 16 years, to guide the information doled out to the young learners.
“No matter the theme of the year,” Tronvold said. “We hit on these themes over again.”
“Stop, drop and roll.”
“Get out, stay out.”
The basic themes are repeated to the students, and the students, teachers and all staff present, in turn, repeat them back and say them along with assistant chief Tronvold and her crew.
Each year, one student is chosen by a panel of judges to be the official junior fire marshal. This year, after “writing four rough drafts” before making a final product, Shane Jones won the award.
“It means a lot to me because I really like firefighters,” Jones said. “It’s pretty cool. I get to ride in the trucks.
Jones likes trucks. He likes writing too.
Jones’ essay began with the prompt, “I would make a good junior fire marshal because…”
“I can help teach people what to do when there’s a fire. Always practice fire drills at your house because you’re never sure if there’s going to be a fire. You should talk to your parents about where a good meeting point is if there is a fire at your house. I think you should check your smoke detectors every once in a while to see if they work. But if you are on fire you should stop, drop, and roll. Stay low to the ground because the smoke is not good for your lungs. If there is a fire don’t stop and get your precious items just get out as fast as you can. The firefighter’s job is to help get you out of the house and take out the fire. If you can’t get out stay where you are and yell for help. Here are some ways you can get out of the house if there’s a fire: a near by door or a window. Here are some things that can start fires: a hair straightener, a plug in, wires, fireworks, matches, a lighter, gas, and cigarettes. Cigarettes are bad for your lungs and if you drop them they could start a fire. Matches can burn you when you swipe it for a fire and when you swipe it, it could hit something and burn down your house. Same with lighters. So make sure kids have a guardian close by just in case something goes wrong. The whole point is to stay safe. I want to teach people about staying safe when there is a fire. Thank you firefighters for saving lives and risking yours for us. You are a very important part of our country. I hope I would make a good jr. firefighter. Thank you,” writes Jones in his award winning essay.
Young Master Jones is correct about everything he wordsmithed.
Wisdom from the young people involved did not stop with the students of Buchanan Elementary.
Three fire cadets, students at T.F. Riggs High School accompanied and help the PFD educate the youngsters.
“My parents are firefighters,” cadet level 2 Naomi McCarthy said. “I just wanted to do it. It’s a pretty big deal. We get to get out of school and help them learn about fire safety.”
Being a level 2 cadet is a pretty big deal in Pierre. A level 2 cadet is allowed to assist on fire calls. They do not go into burning buildings but are allowed to contribute from outside the danger helping with equipment and monitoring the situation.
In his fifth year as principal, Noyes knows there is potentially nothing more important than having a plan of action if a fire breaks out. He wants his students to know too.
Educating our students so they know how to stay safe, at home and at school, and know what to do is what it is all about,” Noyes said.
Chief Paul makes sure everyone knows fire is not a seasonal thing and tries to get the message out any chance he can.
“It doesn’t stop here,” Paul said. “We are always educating adults or youth and it continues through the year.
Chief Paul would like the community of Pierre to know if there is need for a smoke alarm in a home, call or stop by the station on W. Dakota Ave. because he has free ones with 10-year battery life.