The Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department will forgo traditional in-person activities and instead partner with the Public Affairs Office and the National Fire Protection Association to recognize the post’s first ever virtual National Fire Prevention Week Oct. 4 through 10, according to an installation-wide memorandum signed by Col. Jeff Paine, U.S. Army Garrison Fort Leonard Wood commander.
“While the Fort Leonard Wood Fire Department personnel may not be able to physically get out and into the community like they normally do, this will allow the safety message to still get out,” Paine said in the memo.
Fire Chief Bradley Bowling said firefighters thoroughly enjoy the engagement that comes from holding physical events such as Fire Fest, but the department’s top priority is the safety of everyone in the community.
“During the week, we will conduct a complete (virtual) Fire Prevention Program for each school on FLW that encompasses grades K-5,” Paine said. “We will give each teacher a grade-specific fire safety bag for each child.”
According to the memorandum, all students in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades will watch a “Stop, Drop and Roll” puppet show from Sparky, the Fire Department mascot; all 3rd graders are set to watch a demonstration on bedroom fire safety and an instructional video on smoke detectors; 4th and 5th graders can expect to be taught about smoke detectors, kitchen and bedroom safety, and they will watch a demonstration of a firefighter in bunker gear.
Billy Cobb, executive director of operational services for the Waynesville R-VI School District, said the virtual setting will make it easier for teachers and students to access the fire prevention education while adhering to social distancing protocols.
“Teaching young children the importance of fire safety, how to be proactive in preventing fires and how to safely evacuate your house, school or a building in a fire are lifelong skills,” Cobb said. “We appreciate the fact that FLW firefighters are taking the extra step to create virtual fire prevention and educational materials for our students. This will allow us to provide training to our Tiger Virtual Academy students, as well.”
The theme of this year’s prevention week is “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” and will focus on staying vigilant while cooking, which, according to the NFPA, is the top cause of home fires in the United States. Paine’s memorandum stated that the installation saw three reported structure fires in 2019, one of which was due to cooking.
“We continue to respond to numerous unattended cooking situations varying from children cooking unsupervised to over-cooking in microwaves, all of which have the potential of being costly or deadly,” Paine said. “We don’t want our luck to run out.”