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Campers learn fire safety

October 07, 2004|by JANET HEIM

janeth@herald-mail.com

MAUGANSVILLE - Lt. Joe Goodrich of the Maugansville Goodwill Volunteer Fire Co. has been working with his 4-year-old daughter, Lorrie, since she was 3, practicing fire drills and teaching her what to do in case of a fire.

Convinced that it's better to start educating children - along with their parents - about safety sooner rather than later, the Maugansville fire company hosted close to 50 children and about 20 parents for their three-night Safety Camp program.

"As a parent, it helps you sleep at night if your children know what to do in an emergency," said Goodrich, the Fire Prevention Committee chairman for Maugansville.

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Goodrich, along with several other members of his committee, spearheaded the safety camp program after a fire prevention seminar he attended at the University of Maryland this summer triggered the idea.

Maugansville's program is going to be added to the curriculum at the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md., as a model for other fire stations.

"It's pretty impressive that our little town could generate so much interest," said Maugansville Fire Chief Phil Ridenour.

The first safety camp was held in June and Goodrich hopes to hold the camp twice a year in the future.

The program, which was free, was geared to children ages 3 to 10 and their parents, with separate programs for the preschool-age children and older children.

The younger children got to see the fire trucks and their tools up close, while learning about basic safety. The focus was on easing their fears of emergency vehicles and workers. The youngsters also participated in the Sesame Street Fire Safety program.

The older children learned basic first aid and how to get help. The Washington County Sheriff's Department presented a program on trick-or-treat and outdoor safety and the Washington County Safe Kids Coalition talked about gun safety.

Both groups learned about the "stop, drop and roll" technique to be used if you're on fire, learned about and prepared home escape plans and got to see an actual car fire demonstration. The child with the best escape plan was awarded a pizza dinner for their family with the firefighters at the station.

Each child participating received a T-shirt and certificate.

"Members of Team 13 are able to put on programs like this and save lives because they work so well together," Ridenour said. "It's a very worthwhile program."

Goodrich said they've applied for $28,000 through the Federal Emergency Management Agency's Assistance to Firefighters Fund to enhance the program with more visuals, including a robot with Sparky the Dog. Goodrich is also hoping to add an actual computerized house with keypad that offers questions and answers about fire safety.

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