Department drills fire safety into Saanich schools

Saanich Fire Department visits 44 area schools as part of Fire Prevention Week

The Saanich Fire Department – pictured with Mme. Sarah Otoupal’s kindergarten class at Campus View Elementary – made stops at 44 public and private elementary

The Saanich Fire Department – pictured with Mme. Sarah Otoupal’s kindergarten class at Campus View Elementary – made stops at 44 public and private elementary

If there’s ever a fire at your child’s school, you can rest easy knowing the Saanich Fire Department is making sure every student in the district knows what to do when the alarm sounds.

As part of its annual Fire Prevention Week, the SFD visited 44 schools in the area this past week, conducting drills and teaching students about fire safety. Members of the department dropped in at public and private elementary, middle and high schools across Saanich, timing their exit from the buildings with the aim of getting everyone out safely in two minutes or less.

“Fire Prevention Week allows our fire department and firefighters to go to schools and do the fire drills, see how the schools are doing and to build that relationship with the kids and the teachers in case of an eventual emergency,” said Lt. Insp. Sean Lillis.

“We want to know that they are exiting the building properly and meeting in a safe place.”

Lillis said the yearly visits are a great addition to the regular fire drills that schools conduct, and that the department teaches other tips to keep students safe in the event of a fire.

“We try and teach not to worry about bringing any of their personal items, that it’s important to get outside and meet your teacher,” he said.

While schools are a strong focus of Fire Prevention Week, Lillis highlighted this year’s theme of “Hear the Beep Where You Sleep,” which promotes increased fire safety measures at home.

“We want to start getting everybody to have a working smoke alarm in every bedroom – not just in the hallways outside of the bedroom,” he said. “With new construction, that is a standard that is happening… but for older homes, we’re looking for people to install smoke alarms as an extra precaution.”

Lillis also stressed the importance of conducting fire drills at home; while schools regularly run drills for their students, Lillis said there needs to be a similar exit strategy where you live.

“We are trying to get people to remember to do these fire drills at home,” he said. “Testing your home alarm and doing a home escape plan with the children so they can be as efficient at home as they are at school.”

As part of Fire Prevention Week, the provincial Office of the Fire Commissioner is running a draw for an iPad with students in Kindergarten to Grade 3. Students are asked to fill out the entry form with the home fire safety checklist and drop it off at their local fire department by Nov. 6.

 

To download the form, visit embc.gov.bc.ca/ofc/public-ed/fire-prevention-week/index.htm. For more information about Fire Prevention Week, visit saanichfire.ca, nfpa.org/safety-information/fire-prevention-week or sparky.org/parentpage/fpwkids.htm.