The Firefighter Phil program was founded in 1975 by Creative Safety Products to bring fire-prevention, fire-safety and respect-for-authority-figure lessons to grades K-2. On Oct. 17, 2016, I attended a session of the Firefighter Phil program at Arbor Elementary School that was presented by Firefighter Steve Fleck of The Euclid Fire Department and Ventriloquist Mike Eakins of Creative Safety Products to an auditorium full of first and second graders, their teachers and administrators. Fleck has been a member of the fire department for 25 years and says that they have been hosting the Firefighter Phil program for 18-20 years.
What does the program involve? Well, it was one of the most entertaining ways I’ve spent my morning in a long time! The program uses ventriloquists, puppets, magic tricks, humor and audience participation to make learning fun, entertaining and memorable. The puppets change each year for students who may have seen the presentation in the prior year. This year, Mac the Mouse and Uncle Vinny taught us a few things that I wanted to share with you.
If you remember nothing else, here are the main takeaways. Since we all went through this training as kids, a refresher never hurts. Plus, you can use these tips with your kids and grandkids!
To get out of the house, the rules are:
- Low and go (crawl under smoke, test the door with the fingernail side of your hand to see if it is hot, and, if it is and the fire is outside the door, hang a sheet or blanket out of the window to signal to firefighters that someone needs help)
- Have a family meeting place pre-arranged on the street or in the neighborhood in case of emergency so that everyone can be accounted for
- Call 911
Check your smoke detectors monthly by pressing the button to make sure they still are working. Change the batteries twice per year during daylight savings time.
Finally, if your clothes are on fire (and, here’s where there was an extra step that I never learned as a kid):
- COVER YOUR FACE WITH BOTH OF YOUR HANDS
After the program, students received a grade-specific activity book to work on with parents, guardians and teachers. The Euclid Fire Department also created a child-sized room called a “smoke trailer” that is funded with donated aluminum cans. When classrooms visit the fire station, children can learn about fire safety in the room and see how smoke fills the room and where it is safe to crawl.