Students rewarded for developing fire escape plans

Published 4:34 pm Friday, October 27, 2017

When a fire engine and an EMS unit show up at school, usually it’s not good news. On occasion, it is good news.

That was the situation for two fifth-graders and two fourth-graders at John Small Elementary School on Friday. Those four students — Addison Miller, Xzavier Lewis, Esteffany Montoya and Mattie Watters — left school for several hours to ride in a fire engine, eat pizza and go about 100 feet the air on the aerial platform of another fire truck.

Why? They were the winners of the Washington Fire-Rescue-EMS Department’s 2017 Great Escape Plan Challenge’s program known as EDITH — Exit Drills in the Home. The students were transported from the school to fire station No. 1, where they were presented certificates recognizing their achievements. Fire Lt. Josh Ingram, who conducts fire-safety educational activities at area schools, praised the students’ efforts.

Students draw floor plans of their homes. The drawings are required to show all rooms, hallways, windows, door and exits of that student’s home. The submissions also must show locations of smoke detectors and fire extinguishers. The drawings must include an outside meeting place for family members to gather in case of a fire.

“You did your plans like you were supposed to, showing the special meeting places. When we show up as firemen in our trucks, we see everybody outside and we know everyone is safe,” Ingram said.

The students said developing their exit plans showed how easy or difficult, depending on the design of their houses, it can be to evacuate a house during a fire.

“My house has a lot of ways out of every room. Like no matter where you are, you can get out,” said fifth-grader Addison. I started in the middle of every room and found ways out of the room.”

“I learned how to get out when there’s a fire,” said fourth-grader Mattie, who said it took her about 30 minutes to draw her escape plan.

Fourth-grader Esteffany said, “I learned about doing the layout of the house first, adding the decks and identifying window exits. When picking my meeting place, I thought of doing it far enough away so fire doesn’t burn any of us.
Fifth-grader Xzavier said, “I learned how to open windows and not to stand up when there’d smoke because that can kill you.” When there is smoke in a house, people should “go low” to escape, he added. Xzavier said it took him 15 minutes to draw his escape plan.

The local Pizza Hut and Coca-Cola franchises donated the food and beverages for the pizza party.

About Mike Voss

Mike Voss is the contributing editor at the Washington Daily News. He has a daughter and four grandchildren. Except for nearly six years he worked at the Free Lance-Star in Fredericksburg, Va., in the early to mid-1990s, he has been at the Daily News since April 1986.
Journalism awards:
• Pulitzer Prize for Meritorious Public Service, 1990.
• Society of Professional Journalists: Sigma Delta Chi Award, Bronze Medallion.
• Associated Press Managing Editors’ Public Service Award.
• Investigative Reporters & Editors’ Award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Public Service Award, 1989.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Investigative Reporting, 1990.
All those were for the articles he and Betty Gray wrote about the city’s contaminated water system in 1989-1990.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Investigative Reporting, 1991.
• North Carolina Press Association, Third Place, General News Reporting, 2005.
• North Carolina Press Association, Second Place, Lighter Columns, 2006.
Recently learned he will receive another award.
• North Carolina Press Association, First Place, Lighter Columns, 2010.
4. Lectured at or served on seminar panels at journalism schools at UNC-Chapel Hill, University of Maryland, Columbia University, Mary Washington University and Francis Marion University.

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