Federal Way, Highline school kids get fire safety lessons

Kendra Kay, with South King Fire and Rescue, has 1st and 2nd graders at Rainier View Elementary practice what to do in case of a fire, including calling 911 from a neighbor
Kendra Kay, with South King Fire and Rescue, has 1st and 2nd graders at Rainier View Elementary practice what to do in case of a fire, including calling 911 from a neighbor's house.
— image credit: Kyra Low/The Mirror

Students in Federal Way and Highline school districts are getting educated on fire safety.

This year, the South King Fire and Rescue Public Ed program has changed from grades K-5 to grades K-2 — and in the process, the program reaches more schools each year.

The department covers about 30 elementary schools in the two districts. In the past, when they taught kindergarten through fifth grade, it took two to three days per school to get to all the classrooms. This means the department was in local schools more than 60 days out of the school district's 180-day calendar. The program became tough to schedule and many schools skipped their visit.

Now by focusing on kindergarten through second grade, the department needs only one day per school, and can visit more schools.

Rainier View Elementary has been consistently visited by Kirsti Weaver and Kendra Kay of SKFR's Public Education department, and as a result, the lessons stick with the kids.

The lessons that Weaver taught to the kindergarten class earlier this month were echoed almost verbatim by first- and second-graders in Kay's session.

For the youngest students, the lesson is staying away from danger, learning what types of fires are OK (if set by an adult), including birthday candles, campfires and fireplaces. Every student also practices handing matches and a lighter to an adult and asking to "please put these away up high."

Kindergartners also practiced crawling under the "smoke," in this case a black sheet decorated with gray swirls, for when a fire alarm sounds.

"I always start a lesson asking what I do for the fire department," Kay said.

This time, it took several guesses, but one student did get it.

"I am a teacher for the fire department," she confirmed.

Students remember the lessons, as evidenced by the first- and second-graders, who all remembered the rules about crawling low and asking an adult to put matches and lighters up high.

For older students, the lesson was expanded upon, complete with a video called "Be Cool About Fire Safety," which reminded them not to "hide outside" and as sung by Little Richard, "Fall and Crawl."

Students also got a chance to practice, this time sleeping until awoken by a fire alarm, crawling to a door, feeling for heat, meeting outside, then calling 911 from a neighbor's phone.

For Kay, the lessons they teach save lives.

"I don't know how many lives I've saved, but I know I save lives," she said.

Learn more

Here's some kid friendly sites to help continue to the education kids need about fire safety:


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