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School fire safety during COVID-19

Standing, from left: Greg Cook, Colin Leamon and (far right) John Collier. Kneeling, from left: Wade Francis, René Roy, Josh Legge, Jerry Musseau, Jim Ingram, Leo Strickland.

by Rosalyn Roy Staff Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES – As part of their annual Fire Prevention Week program, the Channel-Port aux Basque Volunteer Fire Department visits the elementary, high school and college campus. For the past two years they’ve even started visiting the local daycare so that even the pre-schoolers will learn that firemen dressed in bunker gear are there to help.

“Usually we do a presentation to the younger kids on all fire safety, and each year we link it to our theme, but we also stick to the smoke detectors and the fire extinguishers and having an escape plan with the younger ones. After that we usually do an inspection of all those buildings,” says Fire Chief Jerry Musseau. “We have to send a report to the schools and the college, and we also do fire drills in all those places.”

However thanks to COVID-19, this will mark the first year that the fire department will not be able to visit the schools to go to different classrooms to interact with the students directly. Although they fully understand and agree that the the pandemic guidelines must be adhered to for everyone’s safety, the department is worried about how to share their message and safety tips.

“We really don’t know what we can do,” admits Musseau. “We can’t even have an open house.”

The department has been reaching out to the local schools to try to come up with a strategy that might work, but as of publication deadline no update had been made available.

This year’s theme is about fire safety in the kitchen, and Musseau says that the focus is always on teaching kids at school so they can take it home to put into practice. Usually that involves something as simple as getting them to go home and double check the smoke detectors with their parents.

“Stop drop and roll is another one,” offers Fire Captain John Collier. “We usually give them a little bag filled with crayons and books and stuff on firefighting.”

Because the department had anticipated that they wouldn’t be allowed to visit the classrooms, they didn’t even order the swag bag items. Musseau says he doesn’t know if it was even an option to just drop the materials for the school to hand out.

“COVID-19 has put a stop to everything now.”

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