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Park Rapids Fire Department educating kids about fire safety

"Smoke goes up, you go down," firefighter Crystal Krautkremer advises first and second graders. Dressed in full gear, Steve Safratowich demonstrates how firefighters "will be on hands and knees looking for you."1 / 3
Park Rapids Firefighter Zach Deshayes gave Century Elementary School students a tour of the fire department's ladder truck. (Photos by Shannon Geisen/Enterprise)2 / 3
Stephanie Mercil's second grade class was thrilled to cross the bucket at the end of the 9-story fire ladder. Deshayes explained that this water cannon can discharge 2,000 gallons of water per minute. 3 / 3

The Park Rapids Fire Department is busy reinforcing potentially life-saving messages.

October is Fire Prevention Month.

For the next three weeks, their community outreach extends area youngsters.

"We do this for daycare all the way through fourth grade," said firefighter Crystal Krautkremer. "It's super fun."

On Thursday morning, Krautkremer and fellow volunteer firefighters Curt Eischens, Steve Safratowich, Zach Deshayes and Randy McFarren shared fire safety tips with Century Elementary Students.

This year's theme is "Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out" to educate the public about the critical importance of developing a home escape plan and practicing it.

In a typical home fire, you may have as little as one to two minutes to escape safely from the time the smoke alarm sounds. That's why home escape planning is so critical in a fire situation. It ensures that everyone in the household knows how to use that small window of time wisely.

"That beeping tells you one thing: Get out, get out, get out," Krautkremer said. "You have to get out of the house as fast as you can. Every second counts. You always need two ways to get out of every room in the house."

Escape routes are usually a door or a window. She urges families to conduct a fire drill and determine an outside meeting place (like a tree, light pole or mailbox) that is a safe distance from the home.

A home escape plan includes working smoke alarms on every level of the home, in every bedroom, and near all sleeping areas.

"A smoke detector wants one birthday present every year: new batteries," Krautkremer reminded students. "Test it every month so you hear the sound and make sure it's happy."

Park Rapids firefighters dress in their full gear, which weighs between 50 and 75 pounds, so children are more accustomed to the sight.

If there's a fire, Krautkremer cautioned students to stay low to the ground to breath the "good" air.

"Don't hide," she said. "Firefighters will be on hands and knees looking for you."

The Park Rapids Fire Department responds to 100 calls per year, Krautkremer noted. They deal with all sorts of fires — car, grass, powerline, houses.

"We want to make sure you guys stay safe," Krautkremer said. "If we don't have to go to a fire, we're very happy."

Deshayes gave tours of the fire department's ladder truck, opening the various compartments to show the assortment of hoses, nozzles, Jaws of Life, extinguishers and more.

"We have lots of tools. We have to be prepared for any situation we find," he said.

The National Fire Protection Association offers these additional tips:

• Draw a map of your home with all members of your household, marking two exits from each room and a path to the outside from each exit.

• Practice your home fire drill twice a year. Conduct one at night and one during the day with everyone in your home, and practice using different ways out.

• Teach children how to escape on their own in case you can't help them.

• Make sure the number of your home is clearly marked and easy for the fire department to find.

• Close doors behind you as you leave — this may slow the spread of smoke, heat, and fire.

• Once you get outside, stay outside. Never go back inside a burning building.