MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. --
Six out of thousands of students were chosen for their creativity in either writing an essay or drawing a poster that related to fire safety. More than 3,200 students from Camp Lejeune’s elementary and middle schools along with Marine Corps Air Station schools participated in the yearly Fire Safety Week competition.
Fire Safety Week was a full week of fire prevention, fire extinguisher and safety classes that went on from Oct. 4, 2009, until Oct. 10, 2009.
This was the seventh year the Camp Lejeune Base Fire and Emergency Services Division taught students from Camp Lejeune schools and schools in the surrounding area the dangers of fire and how to promote fire safety where ever they may go.
“Every year the National Fire Protection Association develops a theme centered on fire safety,” said Chief Glenn Zurek, assistant chief of fire prevention, Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune Fire Department. “This year’s theme was ‘Stay Fire Smart! Don’t Get Burned,’ and we go out to the schools and promote that message.”
The goal of going to the schools is not only to reach out to the students but to the parents as well. Kids eagerly take what they learn at school back to their parents.
The school student learn fire safety messages while staying entertained through puppet shows. Members of the Fire and Emergency Services Division also handed out stickers and coloring books.
The biggest thingthe Fire and Emergency Services Division did was host a contest for best essay and posters relating to the theme of the year.
The poster contest was available to all elementary students while the essay was available to middle school students.
The contests become a family project with children asking their parents for help, said Zurek. It gets the family aware of fire safety while receiving education through training.
Students from all across Camp Lejeune School District submitted essays and poster ideas in hopes of winning the grand prize for best essay or poster. Out of the 3,200 students that submitted, only six winners were chosen.
First place prices for the elementary poster contest winner and the middle school essay winner included a bicycle, class pizza party and a $50 savings bond.
“Eleven years ago we started with just a bike,” said Zurek. “Over time we contacted other organizations and it has grown into this. Everyone is eager to help and show their support.”
Although the high schools did not have any contests the Fire and Emergency Services Division got the students involved with fire safety as well.
“We go to the high schools and take over the science class,” said Fire Chief Robin E. Lewis, fire chief for Marine Corps Fire Service. “We do simulated training with a fire extinguisher.”
Although a lot of time and effort is put into the one week out of the year dedicated to fire safety, the Fire and Emergency Services Division does not stop working with students once the week is over.
Fire drills are conducted on a monthly basis with fire and emergency personnel supervising to make sure everyone knows how to evacuate safely.
All of the hard work pays off when at the end of the day the students from elementary school to high school go home with knowledge on how they can maintain fire safety.
“Teaching children about fire safety is an inspiration,” said Zurek. “This is something they carry on later in life.”