County Tipperary pupils play key role in highlighting fire safety message

Main photo: At the annual Primary Schools Fire Safety Programme Launch by South Tipperary Fire & Rescue Service at Donohill N.S. Back row L to R: Linda Grogan, Edel Fanning, Roy O'Leary (Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer Clonmel), Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council  Cllr. John Cross, Claire Curley (Director of Services), Bernard O'Brien (Station Officer Tipperary Town Fire Brigade), Joan O'Neill and Principal Assumpta Crosse-Ryan.In front all the children from Donohill N.S. with their Safety Team BrochuresTop right: The new bi-lingual Fire Assembly Point sign erected in Donohill N.S. playground. Bottom right: The Safety Team Brochure that includes various fire safety advice, stickers, games and home checks.
Caitriona Kenny

Caitriona Kenny

The official launch of the Primary Schools Fire Safety Programme for the school year 2012 to 2013 took place in Donohill National School on March 8 attended by the Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council, John Crosse; Clare Curley, Director of Services; Ray O’Leary, Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer Clonmel; and Bernard O’Brien, Station Officer Tipperary Town Fire Brigade.

Cllr. John Crosse was delighted that the 2013 Launch was in Donohill.

I’m absolutely thrilled as Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council to be in my own village attending this launch. It’s great to be here to reward the kids and acknowledge all the hard work being done by the school, Bernie O’Brien and Ray O’Leary. I’d also like to welcome Claire Curley, Director of Services, who has a very responsible job making sure that everything works well in attendance today.”

On an annual basis, hundreds of third class students attending the 91 primary schools in South Tipperary receive a Fire Safety awareness lesson courtesy of South Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service. The information sessions form part of a nationwide programme entitled ‘Safety Team’ that has been designed to enhance the level of awareness of Fire Safety in the Home and to raise the level of understanding of Fire Safety in the Community.

The first Primary Schools Fire Safety Programme launch was in Lisvernane N.S. when Cllr. Joe Donovan was Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council. The Fire safety Programme is launched on an annual basis depending where the Cathaoirleach of South Tipperary County Council is from although South Tipperary Fire and Rescue Service have been providing information to schools and other organisations for many years.

“This keeps the campaign fresh and foremost in people’s minds,” said Bernie O’Brien, Station Officer, Tipperary Town Fire Brigade. “The whole aim of this is to teach the children of a certain age about fire safety and then they can teach the entire family. We can talk to adults all day but when we speak to the children and they have checklists to bring home that involve the whole family, the message really gets across and it works. I’ve met parents who have told me that the kids came home from school with the fire safety exercises that need to be done and they were nearly driven mad from it, but afterwards they had a better understanding of fire safety and actually learnt things they didn’t know from the pack.”

The programme is delivered to all primary schools in South Tipperary who accept the Fire Services offer to present the lesson. Every child who attends is presented with a copy of the ‘Safety Team’ pack. The pack gets the fire safety message across in a fun and effective way and includes various fire safety advice, stickers, games and home checks. The school children are expected, as part of their homework, to interact with their families on the elements of the programme. It is about educating the children so that they in turn educate their families, making children the ambassadors of Fire Safety in the Home.

Ray O’Leary Senior Assistant Chief Fire Officer based in Clonmel explained why 3rd class pupils have been targeted for this campaign.

“Research and feedback has found that 8-9 years of age is an ideal age to give information to children. 3rd class students were identified as being more open to messages of fire safety and were also noted to be more willing to interact with their parents.”

Claire Curley, Director of Services with responsibility for Fire & Emergency Services, thanked Bernie O’Brien and Ray O’Leary for attending the launch representing the fire crew.

“It has been a very successful programme to date and the Schools have been very supportive and indeed the pupils themselves. We find that in terms of fire prevention this is very good method of getting the message across with the children going home to tell their brothers and sisters and hopefully this is a life-long message that will prevent accidents down the line. The fire crew have been incredibly proactive in delivery the fire safety message in a user-friendly way for everyone to understand and equally they have give up their time to deliver fire safety messages on the radio and through general media so that everyone gets a better understanding,” said Ms Curley. “Thank you to all the fire crews who work on a constant basis to get the message across as well as responding to fires when they happen on a constant basis and congratulations to Bernie who recently received a national award in recognition of his long service in Tipperary Fire Services.”

Principal Assumpta Crosse-Ryan of Donohill N.S. is very happy with the Fire Safety Programme. “We are absolutely delighted to welcome everyone to the 2013 launch here this morning. Station Officer, Bernie, is a regular visitor to the school and part of our educational Fire Safety programme. Bernie knows the children here very well and because of the initiative we are all very aware of fire safety and have made Fire Safety a special part of the curriculum. Just recently we erected a bi-lingual sign in the school playground that is the ‘Assembly’ point for all our fire safety drills. What we found whilst completely the drills was that each time there would be some mistakes and it took some practise of the drills before we got it right. This is an important message to practise the drills often.”

With any campaign it can take time for the results to be noticed and it was very positive to hear Bernie O’Brien talking about a fire at a house that the fire crew attended last year.

“When the fire brigade got to the house the fire had nearly gone out but we noticed that the power had been switched off and the doors were closed. When we asked who had done this a young lad living in the house said he had and when asked why, he said to me, but isn’t that what you told us to do when you visited our school. This was a clear result of just how the Fire Safety Programme in Schools works,” said Bernie.