Firefighters guide kids in keeping safe
Fire and Rescue NSW has joined forces with Guide Dogs to deliver a specialised fire safety education program for children with low vision or blindness.
The program includes practical demonstrations and workshops for children, conducted by firefighters at the Emergency Services Academy in Orchard Hills in Sydney’s west.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the first group of primary school-aged kids to take part learnt about fire safety, including how to call Triple Zero (000) and what steps to take if a blaze breaks out.
“It’s wonderful to see this hands-on approach to fire safety, giving our community’s youngest and most vulnerable life-saving skills,” Ms Cooke said.
“We need to find ways to teach everyone about fire safety and I’d like to thank our firefighters for the incredible work they’re doing making sure children with a disability don’t miss out.”
Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said firefighters simulated a blaze in a safe and controlled environment, allowing the children to feel the heat emitted and understand they must always move away from it to avoid danger.
“The kids were also shown how to develop an escape plan and learnt what a firefighter uniform feels like to help develop their trust. We want these young people to have confidence in our firefighters and know they can call upon them for help in times of emergency,” Commissioner Baxter said.
“They then rehearsed the ‘get down low and go, go, go’ method of evacuating to the nearest exit during a fire and the ‘stop, cover and roll’ approach to extinguishing flames on their clothing or in their hair.”
Orientation and Mobility Expert at Guide Dogs NSW/ACT Karen Carrigan said fire safety education is crucial for everyone, but presents unique challenges for people with low vision or blindness.
“They may not be able to see the visual cues of fire and smoke to gain an understanding of the scale and urgency of an emergency,” Ms Carrigan said.
“Programs like this help build confidence and knowledge, gives kids a chance to learn with their peers and sets them up to lead a life without limits.”
The first group involved nine children and their parents and carers, and travelled from across Sydney, the Illawarra and the South Coast to take part. More families will be invited to participate in the future.
Fire and Rescue NSW has more information and educational resources available on its website.