Recently, our Independence class on the school side visited Fire Station 1 in Decatur for a tour. This trip was part of our current topic of community. The goal of this community section is to help our participants explore the roles and responsibilities of the various individuals in a community, the legal system, basic laws, and rights and consequences. Visiting the fire station gave us a chance to see what firefighters do in the community and what we, as citizens, can do to support their work. In addition to the visit, our participants compiled a list of questions to ask the firefighters during the tour, so we went in prepared.
When we arrived at Fire Station 1, we were greeted by one of the firefighters named Harris and his friend who has been working as a firefighter for 27 years! Harris along with another firefighter and paramedic gave us a tour of the firehouse, trucks, equipment they use, sleeping quarters, and kitchen. They also answered all of our questions we had prepared such as what kind of training they needed to become firefighters, how they move through buildings filled with smoke, how long their shifts are, why they no longer use fire poles, the difference between a paramedic and an EMT, and what they do in their free time at the firehouse.
Much of our tour was very experiential and provided us with a real picture of what it is like to be a firefighter. All of the participants took turns sitting in the driver’s seat of a fire truck and looking in the backseat of the truck. The firefighters also demonstrated how the masks and oxygen tanks work and had us practice moving through the building using our hands and the wall as a guide. Upon leaving the station we made sure to show our utmost gratitude for Harris, his fellow firefighters and the incredibly important job that they do.
Once we returned to TCS we debriefed about what we learned while playing a board game called Flash Point during which players pretend to be firefighters, attempt to rescue citizens and put out advancing fires.