Want to see your preschooler excited? Bring him or her to your local fire station. While some children will be more excited than others to visit a fire house (but who wouldn’t love to see the big, red fire engines!) the opportunity to speak with your local fire fighters and EMS workers is a memorable way to introduce little ones to these essential public servants.
Here are some tips for making the most out of your visit.
1. Remember, there is a lot of important, urgent work that goes on at the fire station. So limiting the visit to 10-15 minutes and keeping group size small is appropriate.
2. Read a book about fire engines or the duties of a fire fighter before the trip. Reading about fire stations will help little visitors become familiar with some of the vocabulary they’ll hear at the fire house, and get them excited about the field trip. Some great titles include The Little Fire Engine by Lois Lenski or Going to the Firehouse by Mercer Meyer, and A Day in the Life of a Firefighter by Linda Hayward (A DK Reader book).
3. Call ahead to arrange a time to visit or a time for the fire fighter to visit you, if you have a larger group. Obviously fire fighters can’t predict when their services will be needed. But it is a good idea to arrange a time to visit the station. Be sure to explain to children that the fire fighters may need to respond to a call during their visit which may cut short their time at the station. Help students be flexible by giving them this information ahead of time.
As an alternative for large groups, see if the fire station has a representative that could come to your classroom to talk about fire safety and the gear fire fighters use.
4. Generate some questions to ask the fire fighters ahead of time. Some examples include:
- How long would it take you to get to our school?
- What should we do if we smell smoke at home?
- What information do I need to know if I have to call 911 for an emergency?
- What are your most common calls – fires, cat in the tree, injuries?
- What kind of training do you have to do to become a fire fighter?
5. Thank the fire fighters. After reading about the incredibly important roles fire fighters play in our communities, it will be easy to encourage children to thank them for everything they do to keep us and our neighborhoods safe. Create and bring a thank you card to the fire fighters at the station. It is a great way to start or end the trip!