This week marked another year that Colusa County fire departments and schools observed Fire Prevention Week, a nationally recognized time for awareness and safety. 

The Arbuckle Fire Department has provided fire safety education to school children longer than Tom Robinson, assistant fire chief, has been there, and he just received his 25-year badge. Robinson taught children to “Stop, Drop, and Roll.” Pretend broken limbs were bandaged, and students got strapped down to a longboard to experience the life-saving measures that the fire department takes should the need arise. 

Students also explored equipment, like the department’s heat cameras and defibrillator machines. The children got to climb up into the firetruck and had a chance to operate a real hose. “Children are asked about the three magic numbers to call when there is an emergency, “NINE, ONE, ONE,” which was shouted by the students from LuAnne Lambertson’s transitional kindergarten class. 

Children were then deputized as junior firefighters with plastic hats and sticker badges, and they took home a variety of items with fire safety logos.

Fire prevention week has been observed for an entire week every October since 1922, inspired by the Great Chicago Fire, believed to be started by a cow knocking over a lantern. The fire killed more than 250 people and destroyed more than 17,400 structures on October 9, 1871. 

Dave Avera, an engineer with the Colusa Fire Department, said they educate students over the course of many weeks. 

The preschoolers at Colusa Children’s Center received a visit by Colusa Fire Department personnel, and so will students at Our Lady of Lourdes and Birchfield. 

At Egling Middle School, the Colusa Fire Department incorporated fire safety at their EMS Day a couple of weeks ago.

“It’s good for everybody,” said Avera, who appreciates going over things such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and the importance of having escape plans. 

He said the demonstrations help to reinforce the basics for employees too. 

He said that when they know everyone has followed a previously established evacuation plan, firefighters can then focus on saving structures. 

“We go basically into defense mode rather than rescue,” he said. “When we already know everybody is there, we can fight the fire a lot differently.”

Colusa Fire Department Engineer Bo Salazar said, “As (the students) get older, we start doing a little bit more asking questions, and they’re all shouting out answers. Okay, we’ve done it enough; they remember.” ■