Getting out alive
Young students learn how to plan for fire survival

Darrell Greer
Northern News Services

NNSL (Sep 18/98) - Children and seniors are those most endangered by fire in the N.W.T. and home is often the most overlooked place when it comes to a fire-escape plan, says deputy Fire chief Mike Lowing.

Fire Prevention Week runs from Oct. 4-10 and this year's theme -- Fire Drills: The Great Escape -- could land a Yellowknife family the vacation of a lifetime.

"In partnership with both school districts, we talked to every class from kindergarten to Grade 6 in the city," said Lowing.

"We're using the Fire Prevention Week contest to serve as a vehicle to improve home fire safety in Yellowknife."

Students were given a brief presentation and an information package to take home and create a home-escape plan with their families.

The plans must include a drawing of the student's home and show two ways out of the bedroom and a meeting place outside, amongst other criteria.

The students return their plans to their schools and the fire department will gather them up on Sept. 28.

There will be one winner selected from each participating school.

"We'll bring in hot chocolate and donuts for the winning student and their class from each school," said Lowing.

"We'll also pick one overall winner which will be sent to a national competition before Oct. 23."

Sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association, the top plan will be selected from those received from across Canada and parts of the U.S. and the winner will receive a family-of-four trip to a Disney theme park.

"Also, at 6 p.m. on Oct. 7, the department will conduct a community-wide fire drill so kids can use their plans to do a fire drill at home with their parents," said Lowing.

N. J. Macpherson school principal Pam Petten said the project captured the interest of her students and helped bolster the school's own safety initiatives.

"We've had fire drills at school and planned the most effective escape routes, so it builds on what we are doing to have the kids shown how to do it at home," said Petten.

"The kids were just full of questions about their escape routes and what to do about their pets in a fire.

"The project reinforced our safety message at school and helps keep them safe at home, so we really can't ask for much more than that."