Blue Ridge School students learned about fire safety and prevention on Oct. 9 through a cooperative effort between fire, EMS, law enforcement, and emergency management throughout Jackson County organized by Jackson County Fire and Life Safety Commission.
Fire Academy students from Blue Ridge Early College assisted Jackson County Sheriff’s Department, Glenville-Cashiers Rescue Squad, Cashiers-Glenville Fire Department, Savannah Fire Department, Cullowhee Fire Department, Sylva Fire Department, Cherokee Fire Department, and the United States Forest Service in educating students in grades Pre-K through 8 about fire safety and prevention.
BRS students participated in a variety of events including an assembly, stations, and classroom presentations.
BREC Fire Academy Instructor Lee Sudia said this day provided an excellent opportunity for high school students to interact with elementary students.
“It was a chance for cadets in Fire Academy to interact with elementary students at school. It helps push home that the cheapest way to fight a fire is to prevent a fire. It drives home the need for students to understand how to escape from a residence in case of a fire. Both fire cadets and students really enjoyed the entire day.”
Sophomore Lilly Talley, the only female student currently enrolled in Fire Academy, said that learning about fire safety and prevention is very important.
“It was a really awesome experience,” said Talley. “It was awesome teaching kids and becoming like a teacher in a sense. It is important so they know how to get out of a fire if their parents aren’t home or their babysitter is freaking out.”
Talley added that Fire Academy gives her confidence.
“It’s a lot of fun and it makes me feel like I’m becoming a better person by doing it,” she said. “If there was a fire, I’d be really helping someone. I’d have the ability to help someone.”
Sophomore Gavin Williams said that he enjoyed working with the elementary students on campus.
“It was fun, I enjoyed getting to spread the knowledge,” said Williams. “It’s important to make sure they are safe and know how to prevent accidents of that nature.”
Williams added that BREC Fire Academy provides a way for students to bond.
“It’s a family, we help each other when we need it,” he said. “It helps us to go a longer way with each other.”
Junior Ethan Moss said that it’s necessary to teach younger students how to be safe in difficult situations.
“I liked showing the kids how to be safe in a bad situation. [It is important] so they can get out of a house if it is on fire,” said Moss. “And it helps us first responders not have to worry about kids and adults being in a house if they know how to get out.”
Moss expressed his gratitude for Fire Academy at BREC.
“It helps with possibly pursuing a career as a full-time firefighter,” he said.”It also helps with me being a junior volunteer.”
Junior Jacob Pressler said that his previous experiences with fire safety and prevention programs helped him to teach the younger students about fire safety.
“When I was younger, I had people teach me about it,” said Pressler. “It made it easier to teach about because I’ve done it in their shoes before. If a fire is happening, they need to know what to do so they’re not just freaking out.”
Pressler said that the Fire Academy provides opportunities to BREC students.
“I think it is really good because it is a career you can take, and you can get your certifications to be a paid and certified firefighter,” he said. “If something does happen in your personal life, you aren’t completely clueless about what is going on.”
Senior Erick Harper said that fire safety and prevention is important for keeping kids safe in the event of a fire emergency.
“It was fun, I enjoyed being able to help kids understand more about being safe in fires,” said Harper. “It could help them keep themselves safe in dangerous situations.”
Harper added his appreciation for this program at BREC.
“I can take this trade on and use it later in life,” he said.
The Cherokee Fire Department brought a Fire and Life Safety Trailer (Smoke House) that provides a simulation of a residential fire and reinforces the need for escape drill in the home (EDITH). It prepares students to crawl under smoke in the event of a residential fire. Jackson County has been trying to get one of these trailers for the past 15 years, but this purchase has not yet been funded.
Article and photos by Kristy McCall