One of the things that I have enjoyed as a fire safety educator has been learning all of the innovative things that other educators from across the country do to help keep those in their communities fire safe.
In my early years, I was constantly looking for unique ideas and found one that has been “tried and true” throughout the years.
The “Fire Safety Traveling Trunk” concept was shared with me by my good friend, Cheryl Edwards, from the Lakeland Fire Department. At the time, Cheryl was the fire safety educator for the department (where she now serves in a different capacity). Cheryl found the fire safety traveling trunk to be an important asset to her department’s fire safety efforts.
Fire and Life Safety Educators are becoming more creative in developing programs and ways to get safety information into pre-schools and elementary schools. Some of this comes from the challenge to have schools approve time away from the curriculum for safety. Many fire departments continually compete with the many demands placed on teachers and schools.
As a former teacher, Cheryl shared with me the importance of correlating the objectives of the educational programs provided by my department with the local and/or state educational standards. She said that this correlation would the schools justify the time and that it would be helpful to develop programs that “fit” into already structured time.
The Fire Safety Traveling Trunk enhances fire safety education efforts, not replace the educational programs presented in the schools and centers. The motivating factor behind the trunks is to get the teachers to help teach fire safety in the classroom. Teachers utilize the materials in the trunks since they are in their classroom and they find the materials are user friendly.
The Fire Safety Traveling Trunk provides pre-school and kindergarten teachers with all of the materials needed to teach fire safety in the classroom. The trunks include the NFPA Learn Not to Burn© Preschool Curriculum and items for the various centers that are normally set up in preschool and kindergarten classrooms. Materials in the trunks include: child-sized gear for the dress-up center; matching cards, sequencing cards, and counting cards for the math center; an interactive, fire safety computer program for the computer center; a magnetic story board for the language arts center; and audio tapes of fire safety songs for the music center. The trunks also include items to be used during circle time such as a black sheet to practice crawl low under smoke and felt flames for practicing stop, drop, and roll.
Cheryl’s department has several trunks which travel to area pre-schools. Since my department is in a small community, our fire safety traveling trunk visits the local school one month out of the school year. In addition, items from the trunk are utilized at various fire safety programming events and activities throughout the year.
With funding from a DHS Fire Prevention and Safety grant, our department was able to purchase the necessary components of the trunk in 2004 and it is still in use today. You may find that you may have several items needed for the trunk in your possession. Merchants and/or civic groups in your area may be willing to donate items needed for the trunk.
Feel free to adapt the size and contents of your trunk to fit the needs of your area. Although we use a larger trunk, you may find that a smaller trunk suitable.
If you would like to receive a list of suggested items to put in your Fire Safety Traveling Trunk, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org and put “Fire Safety Traveling Trunk” in the subject line and I will be happy to send you one.
Until next time, stay safe!