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Fire safety taught

June 09, 2002|by JULIE E. GREENE

julieg@herald-mail.com

Shelton Epperson Jr. may only be 3 years old, but his dad has decided it's time to expand his education on fire safety.

Shelton Epperson took his son on a tour of a burned house at Children's Village on Saturday afternoon as part of the 11th annual Kids Alive Fest open house and fund-raiser.

Epperson, of Shippensburg, Pa., was attending the event because his wife was working there for an insurance company.

While he has probably told his son not to play with matches, Epperson said he hasn't sat down with him to give him a serious lesson on fire safety.

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"I haven't got to that point yet, but I think maybe it's time we ought to start," Epperson said after the tour.

Approximately 2,000 Washington County second-graders visit Children's Village every school year to learn fire safety, said Mike Weller, public educator for the Hagerstown Fire Department.

Thanks to a Federal Emergency Management Agency grant, two second-grade classes each from three schools outside the county will get to visit Children's Village for free just as Washington County students do, Development Director Rochelle Morrell said.

Those schools might be in Frederick, Md., Greencastle, Pa., and Berkeley County, W.Va., Morrell said. The hope is those school districts will see how valuable the fire safety lessons are and more school systems from outside the county will pay to send their second-graders to Children's Village, she said.

The open house gives adults a chance to see what's been done at Children's Village on Mount Aetna Road, Weller said.

A new building allows kids to ride bicycles and little cars inside in case of inclement weather, Weller said. The little cars are used for traffic safety lessons.

Brethren Mutual, the state of Maryland, the Hagerstown firefighters union and the Fraternal Order of Police were among the groups contributing to the building, which cost at least $175,000, Weller said.

Lydia Haas, 4, of Hagerstown, isn't old enough to have toured Children's Village with the second-graders yet, but she remembered what she learned when Fireman Mike visited Hagerstown Children's School this spring, said her mother, Diana Stansberry.

"She came home and told me about it," said Stansberry, 32.

Stansberry said she reinforces fire safety lessons at home, telling her daughter never to play with matches - and it works.

"She's very rule oriented," Stansberry said.

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