Youngsters learning about fire prevention

PNT Staff Report

Portales kindergartners, first-graders and some preschool students are touring the Portales Fire Department during Fire Prevention week.

Fire officials want youngsters to learn more about fire safety and prevention, said Battalion Chief Gary Nuckols. He said an estimated 300 children will tour the fire station this week and next.

“One of the primary things we want them to know is the number to call in case of an emergency — 9-1-1,” he said. “We’re hoping and expecting them to know their address at that age.”

“We show them the fire station,” Nuckols said. “We let them see how we live and how we respond to emergencies.

“We show them the trucks and the ambulances. We want to make them more comfortable with the equipment and with firefighters and their gear.”

Firefighters also participate in the “Fire Buddy” program at Steiner Elementary. Each firefighter adopts a class, which he visits once a month for activities that help the children learn about safety.

Nuckols said people need to keep fire prevention in mind, especially with colder weather and holidays approaching.

He offered a few safety tips:

• Use caution with Halloween candles. Never leave a burning candle unattended.

• Make sure chimneys or stovepipes are properly cleaned. Soot can build up and ignite.

• Make sure fireplaces have good enclosures around the front to keep embers from popping out onto the carpet or other flammable material.

• Heaters and furnaces should be inspected by a licensed plumber to make sure they’re working correctly.

• Make sure furnaces have clean filters.

• Use special caution with space heaters. Plugging too many things into one outlet, using extension cords and having the heater too close to flammable items often cause fires. “Use commonsense and follow the manufacturer’s recommendations,” Nuckols said.