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No.247 (11/8/13)

Realistic drill teaches students about firefighters

Ashley Prochaska
Staff Writer

In the United States, we have a National Fire Prevention week every year in October. Schools all over practice evacuating their schools; talking about stop, drop and roll; and different methods to help prevent fires. In Misawa Japan, my school, The Fun and Learning Center, followed suit.
Most fire drills tend to be a very short and well timed event that causes the students to leave their building, walk to the designated safe area and stand around for a few minutes while firefighters do a sweep of the building. This lackluster protocol happens quickly and without much enthusiasm from the students.
All week the students and teachers of The Fun and Learning Center, or FLC, have been preparing for what they thought was a normal fire drill. They talked about how to cover their mouth and nose from smoke, where the emergency exits are, and that being safe about fire was everyonefs main concern.
The students werenft aware of the show Sky Plaza and Misawa Fire Department, had in store. But on Thursday October 24th, the students of The Fun and Learning Center got to experience more than just the average, boring fire drill. At approximately 9am, the preschool students were busy playing on their indoor playground with their jackets on. At the blaring sound of the alarm, the students quickly froze. Luckily, that week they practiced being loud and quiet to adjust the studentsf ears for the sounds they would inevitably hear. This way the students knew the moment they were waiting for had arrived.
gI was worrying that they were just going to get scared and cry more than adults over the sound of the alarmh Miss Yuka, a lead teacher at the Fun and Learning Center explained. gInstead, they focused on what teachers was saying and they were listening to the teachers very well,h The students acted like miniature adults and quickly dropped their toys, tried to zip their coats, and let the teachers direct them to their lines and out the building.
Once the students were on the stairs and making their way down from the 3rd floor, the teachers explained more about the game the students would be playing with the firefighters. To help the firefighters practice, the school would wait for the firefighters to come find and them, like hide and seek. As the students waited they could see the smoke coming from the building and although it was a little intimidating, the students just snickered. One student even pointed out how gthe firefighters [were] being silly.h
Once the firefighters found the students, their hide and seek game was complete. As they finished descending the stairs, our students noticed not one but 5 firetrucks in the parking lot. The students got so excited and quickly sat down to have a better view of what the firefighters were doing.

fire drill

fire drill

fire drill

The firefighters not only swept through the building but they had their giant ladders up and helped selected gvictimsh out of the buildings and broken dummyfs onto the gurneys. One parent, Nou Welsh, explained gIt was quite realistic for it to just be a "fire drill." I actually thought that we had walked into an actual burning building with all the smoke inside. I [also] thought that it was an actual person that they had strap onto the harness but it was just a dummy!h While the firefighters practiced, the teachers talked to the students about the firetrucks, firehose and other vocabulary words the students had learned earlier that week. Then when it looked like the drill was close to an end, something incredible happened.

fire drill

fire drill

The big ladder rose high into the air, and firefighters got into position with their hoses. Thinking that theyfd just swing them back and forth and pretend to practice, the students watched and smiled. As the water turned on, the amazement on the studentsf faces turned on as well. gMy favorite part was how lifelike it was. It was truly made into such a teachable moment. Seeing the students faces and stunned reactions was priceless,h Fatima Tobias, an FLC teacher explained.

fire drill

fire drill

fire drill

fire drill

Throughout the fire drill the students at the Fun and Learning Center exclaimed about their love for firefighters and how they all wanted to be one when they grew up. As the firefighters finished packing up their things, the students of FLC thanked them. The following week, the students wrote thank you letters to the firefighters thanking them again for working so hard and keeping them safe.
As the firefighters finished up, everyone involved stood as the firefighters explained the drill was a complete success. As the director of the Fun and Learning Center, I believe there are no truer words that have been spoken. I could not be more thankful for such a wonderful opportunity for the students. The students got a learning experience of a lifetime and a passion for safety, fire prevention and firefighters that will hopefully follow them the rest of their lives.

fire drill


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