Even small children should know safe ways to escape a fire, Munnsville Fire Department captain Dave Bartlett said Oct. 11 during a special fire safety program for the Stockbridge Valley Central School elementary students.

“It’s never too early to start learning about fire safety,” Bartlett said after taking the children through a mock-fire exercise where they learned how to crawl safely from a smoke-filled room. “This day is all about planning and practicing your home escape.”

An annual program going back several decades – and one that some of today’s department members can remember being a part of themselves as SVCS students – the fire safety day brings department members to the school for a day-long visit filled with fire safety tips.

Inside the school, the kids worked out their plans for escaping a fire at home. Outside, firefighters showed an enthusiastic crowd of youngsters their trucks.

Firefighter John Strain told the kids how the department members could fit six firefighters in their newest truck. Strain said that none of them are allowed to ride on the back anymore and that if they didn’t all have their seatbelts buckled the truck wouldn’t run.

That truck is only allowed to travel at a maximum of 65 miles per hour, he told the curious students, and carries 1,000 gallons of water.

Past chief Roland Shea said the students receive free goodies from the firefighters to remind them of the message in their visit. They range from stickers to pencils to hats, and the gifts get a little bigger as the students themselves get bigger, he noted.

“I really like interacting with the kids here,” Shea said. “It’s fun to see their eyes light up when we show them some of our stuff.”

“They are just so full of energy and excitement, and I get a real charge out of that,” added department second assistant chief Tom Phillips. “And you never know when this might spark an interest in becoming a firefighter someday themselves.”

SVCS elementary school principal Julie Suber said she appreciates the outreach from the department to the students.

“It’s wonderful that every year the fire department comes out and works with our students,” she said. “I feel our kids are in good hands. It’s a fun day for everyone and we are very fortunate they come out every year.”