MONROE, CT — Fire Marshal William “Bill” Davin, Matt Jamison, an engineer with the Monroe Volunteer Fire Department, and firefighter Ben Brown led a group of toddlers into the parking lot of Honey Tree Preschool & Childcare on Monroe Turnpike Wednesday morning, where a fire engine waited for them.
“It’s bigger than me,” one child exclaimed, drawing laughter from adult staffers.
“Do you know what color a fire truck is?” Davin asked.
“Red,” the children replied in unison.
The Monroe firefighters talked to the children about fire safety, continuing a tour of schools during National Fire Prevention Month. They visited Monroe and Fawn Hollow elementary schools and Tiny Treasures Developmental Learning Center, Davin said, adding they plan to visit Gingerbread Preschool this Friday.
“It’s important to start the safety message early, especially the smoke detector sounding and finding a meeting place at home,” Davin said.
He said children already do well at school, lining up during fire drills and following their teachers “like ducklings”, so it’s the message of home safety that really needs to get through.
The firefighters’ 10 a.m. visit to Honey Tree began indoors, with Davin leading demonstrations as the children gathered around him on a rug.
Brown wore his helmet and other fire gear, so the children could see what a firefighter looks like.
Davin attached the front of “Fireman Ben’s” breathing apparatus noting how the air hose looked like an elephant trunk. He told the children how Brown was breathing compressed air from a bottle on his back.
“What does he put a fire out with?” Davin asked, as his young audience called out, “a hose!”
The firefighters talked to the children about smoke detectors with a visual aid — “Hector the Smoke Detector” — and Davin explained how they should call 911 for emergencies.
“It’s three numbers and you get police, firefighters and an ambulance,” he said.
“Who’s ever toasted marshmallows?” Davin asked as several children raised their hands. “Lets all grab our make-believe sticks. Here’s our make-believe campfire,” he said, pointing to a spot on the rug. “Do you like s’mores?”
“I’m roasting a marshmallow and my sleeve catches fire,” he said. “What should I do?”
“Drop, stop and roll,” one girl replied.
Davin said he should stop, drop and roll. “You don’t want to pat your sleeve,” he said. “It will spread.” Then Davin got down on the floor and rolled, making the children giggle.
Before going outside to see the fire engine, Davin stuck stickers on children’s chests, including stickers of fire trucks and badges.
Outside, Davin, Brown and Jamison led the kids on a tour of the fire truck.
“There’s a big fan. Why do you think a fire truck would carry a fan?” Davin asked, before explaining how it is used to blow smoke out of a building.
“Big tires,” some children marveled.
Davin showed rescue tools used to take doors off vehicles and the speaker in front of the truck where the sound of the siren comes from. He also showed them a ladder, electrical connections and lights.
A few children noticed chainsaws. “Why do you need a chainsaw?” one boy asked. Davin said firefighters sometimes cut into a roof to let smoke out.
Children took turns climbing into the truck. Once everyone was out, Davin asked Brown to turn on the strobe lights. “It doesn’t make any noise,” Davin told them. “You don’t have to hold your ears.”
After the demonstration children gave the firefighters drawings and made cards for them.
“These kids love fire trucks,” said Cherie Herbette, a toddler 2 teacher. “They play with them all day long. My boyfriend made a cardboard fire truck.”
In preparation for the firefighters’ visit, Herbette said teachers at Honey Tree read fire truck stories to the children. “They made ladders out of Tower Builders,” she added.