Harrison Township, Michigan Boy's Fire Lesson Helps Save Family

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) -- An 11-year-old boy, who learned a fire safety plan in school more than two years ago, is being credited with helping his family survive a New Year's Day blaze that gutted their home.

For the past two years, the Schrade family _ father Michael, 34, mother Aleda, 32, son Vince, 11, and son Christopher, 7 _ practiced getting out of bed, staying low, leaving through the closest door and rendezvousing at a meeting place outside.

So when fire broke out in their Macomb County home Saturday morning, they knew exactly what to do.

``Most kids would panic,'' Michael Schrade told the Detroit Free Press for a Monday story. ``He kept his cool. He was a big help.''

Schrade was working on his computer in the front living room of the trailer just after 8 a.m. when he smelled smoke. He saw smoke rising from a heating vent and decided to shut the furnace off, but when he removed a piece of facing, flames shot out.

He yelled to his sleeping family to wake up and get out. Within seconds, Vince popped out of his room, dragging his younger brother with him. They had no shoes, socks, or shirts. But they slipped out the back door, just as Vince had mapped out.

The four met at the tree just down the street, where the family always agreed they would meet under just such circumstances. A few seconds later, the whole trailer was in flames.

Firefighters arrived a few minutes after the blaze began and doused it, but the trailer was gutted. They were amazed that Vince, who learned the essentials of fire survival more than two years ago, helped save his family.

``We couldn't believe it when the kid started telling us how it happened, and where he'd learned what to do,'' said Lt. Richard Malik, who worked the scene with the Harrison Township Fire Department.