The Lower Providence Fire Department (LPFD), an all-volunteer fire company, held fire safety lessons this week for township youth at its fire station, located along Ridge Pike in Eagleville.
The fire safety lessons, along with a tour of the station, were given in recognition of October as Fire Prevention Month and the upcoming Oct. 7 – 13 Fire Prevention Week.
Leading the lessons was LPFD president Jackie Rittenhouse, who was assisted by LPFD firefighters Jake Stinger and Justin Weber.
Rittenhouse, who became the company’s first active female member in 1978, has taught fire safety lessons during Fire Prevention Week for the last 30 years.
On Oct. 4, students from Lower Providence Presbyterian Preschool visited the fire station to learn about fire safety. Several such visits from the school were scheduled that day, each one bringing approximately 10 students at a time.
Rittenhouse said that she enjoys giving the fire safety lessons, because it empowers the students and lets them be a helpful member of their family.
“These are things they can do at their age to help the fire fighters,” Rittenhouse said.
One of the first lessons Rittenhouse taught was asking the students to go over an escape plan with their parents. According to the National Fire Protection Association, the theme of this year’s Fire Prevention Week is “Have 2 Ways Out.”
Rittenhouse suggested that families practice fire drills in their homes in case of emergency situations.
Other lessons came with more memorable phrases, such as “Stop, Drop and Roll,” should your clothes catch on fire; and “ Stay Low and Go,” in order to avoid toxic smoke in a burning house.
Each lesson came with an exercise and demonstration, such as with the “Stay Low and Go,” where Rittenhouse led the pre-school students to safety by crawling under a table that represented toxic smoke.
“You’ll notice, I’m on the ground with them the whole time,” Rittenhouse said, on teaching fire safety to young children. “You need to relate to them.”
The Friendly Firefighter
One of the more poignant lessons given taught the young students not to be afraid of firefighters.
“We want them to feel comfortable when the firemen show up,” Cathy Natalini, Lower Providence Presbyterian Preschool teacher, said. “It’s important t for the children to be aware.”
She added that the students also start to appreciate their local emergency responders as invaluable resources of the community.
This was accomplished when Rittenhouse volunteered Weber, a 2012 Methacton High School graduate, to put on his firefighter gear.
Rittenhouse explained that young children sometime become frightened of firefighters with their 65-72 pounds of gear on, from heavy boots to protective helmet. She said that frightened children can cost precious seconds in emergency situations, which is why it was important for the students to see Weber put on his firefighter gear one piece at a time, and know that a firefighter was underneath all the gear.
Green and White Fire Trucks
Rittenhouse then led the students on a tour of the engine room, where the various township fire trucks and vehicles are kept.
As the students explored each vehicle, Rittenhouse provided jewels of information, such as the reason for Lower Providence Township’s green and white fire trucks, as opposed to the traditional red ones.
“Did you know that the fire trucks can be whatever color we want them to be?” she asked the students. “The trucks are green and white because when Lower Providence and Worcester schools merged, their colors are green and white.”
By the end of the tour, Rittenhouse asked the students if they may be interested in becoming a firefighter, to which many said yes. She said that youth may join the company as a junior member at 14, and said more information can be found during the Oct. 12 open house.
Lower Providence Fire Department Open House
On Oct. 12, the LPFD will hold an open house at its fire station, located at 3199 Ridge Pike in Eagleville. The open house is designed to include several family friendly activities, surprise give-a-ways, as well as fire safety lesson reviews that, according to Rittenhouse, the children love demonstrating for their parents.
Visitors will get a chance to see the station’s various emergency vehicles up close, as well as the Lower Providence Community Center Ambulance newest vehicle.
The LPVFC will provide refreshments made on premises.
For more information, visit www.lpfire.com.