PLAINVILLE — It was stop, drop and roll instead of reading and writing.
Students at the Jackson Elementary School got to talk to firefighters Tuesday about what to do in a home emergency and how to stay safe.
Lieutenants Dean Casbarra and Ryan Millin taught the students the importance of staying low in the event of a fire and crawling to the nearest exit, among other safety tips.
“You teach the kids at a young age and they never forget it,” Acting Fire Chief Richard Ball said.
The firefighters and the students are back in school as COVID-19 restrictions are being lifted after over a year.
The firefighters teach the SAFE program, a state fire safety program, that has been a staple of education in the local school system for about three decades, said Ball, who taught the program when he started with the fire department 15 years ago.
SAFE is an acronym for Student Awareness of Fire Education. Casbarra is the SAFE coordinator for the department.
Firefighters also teach a SAFE program for senior citizens to make sure the town’s aging population is safe, Ball said.
Earlier this year, the fire department received a $4,700 state grant for the student program and $2,480 for the senior program.
Ball said firefighters teach the senior program at the town’s senior center and can perform safety inspections in the homes of senior citizens.
Working in conjunction with the school system, Ball said, students learn various safety topics at each grade level and even become certified in cardiopulmonary resuscitation in the sixth grade.
With the certification, the students can get jobs as lifeguards and it is a plus for getting a babysitting gig in addition to an important life skill, Ball said.
One local student who earned his CPR certification through the SAFE program went on to save a diner at a restaurant where he was a waiter, Ball said.
In addition, he said, the program gives students a chance to see their local firefighters so in the event of an emergency they will see a familiar face.
“It also gives kids confidence so that if something happens they will know what to do and who to call,” Ball said. “We’re teaching them some life skills.”
David Linton may be reached at 508-236-0338.