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Firefighters push safety to students

South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Lt. Mark Yergeau greets Sidney Glen Elementary School students with “high fives” Friday afternoon for Fire Prevention Week. - Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo
South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Lt. Mark Yergeau greets Sidney Glen Elementary School students with “high fives” Friday afternoon for Fire Prevention Week.
— image credit: Justine Frederiksen/Staff Photo

Being a firefighter is enough to impress most kids, so the fact that South Kitsap Fire and Rescue Lt. Mark Yergeau also sounded like both Darth Vadar and R2-D2 at once Friday afternoon meant that every kid at Sidney Glen Elementary School was rapt with attention as he stood in full gear.

Which is exactly what the visitors from SKFR wanted, since this month they have been stopping by each school as part of Fire Prevention Week.

“They’re here to help you and they’re your friends,” said Battalion Chief and Medical Officer Mike Wernet, explaining that while Yergeau might look as harmless as a big banana then, if he came into your home in the middle of the night he might be quite scary.

And since he was still scary to at least one first-grader, Yergeau knelt down and let six-year-old Caitlyn Reynolds talk to him up close and tap on his helmet to see that the person inside the uniform wasn’t so bad.

Along with showing off their trucks and all the equipment they carry, the firefighters were there to share crucial information about how to prevent fires.

“We’re sending you home with a homework assignment, and the first thing you need to do is check your smoke alarm,” Wernet said. “And the next thing you should check for is a fire extinguisher.”

Wernet also told the kids the three most common ways that fires start in homes, two of which that begin happening this time of year.

The first, which is food left cooking unattended on the stove, happens all year, he explained, but the other two most common reasons for house fires — candles and fireplaces — are more likely to occur this time of year, when the holidays begin and the weather gets cold.

As a way to get as many kids as possible to go over their assignments with their parents, the firefighters again offered ice cream parties to each classroom that has every student return their completed fire safety “homework.”

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