Falls City’s Fire Stomper Program Saves Lives by Teaching Fire Safety
Wednesday, October 30, 2019
Falls City, Nebraska is home to a strong community of volunteers. Civic pride has defined Falls City from its founding and our group of volunteer firefighters exemplify this spirit of community service. With just two full-time firefighters, our community depends on thirty volunteers to help operate the Fire Department. These volunteers are fully trained and play a critical role in keeping community members safe.
This love of community, and interest in becoming a firefighter, may just start in elementary school. The Fire Stompers program, developed 17-years ago by long-time firefighter, Kenny Simpson, teaches children how to watch for fire danger and what to do in an emergency. Around 1,000 children have gone through the program. Mr. Simpson, now deceased, told the Falls City Journal of a time when a six-year-old boy helped to save his dad’s life from a house fire, after undergoing that training (Gottula, 2018).
The Fire Stompers program was designed for children, but people of all ages can attend the weekly fire prevention and fire safety classes. Fire Chief, JR Wisdom, told the Falls City Journal, “They learn things like ‘stop, drop and roll,’ and other things to do if they’re ever in a fire” (Ractliffe, 2018).
In the past, demonstrations have included things like burning a shed-like structure so that attendees could see how firefighters put out an active fire (Ractliffe, 2018). Firefighters then demonstrate how smoke ventilation works and how they use fire hoses to put out the flames. Typically, one firefighter will explain what is happening while others work to put the fire out. This allows children to see the importance of getting down low, covering their face and getting away from flames as quickly as possible. They also show children how to call 911 for help and how to use a fire extinguisher. These demonstrations take the theoretical and make it real for children.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are approximately 371,500 house fire every year, 1,900 of them fatal and 7,000 of them resulting in injuries (U.S. FIre Administration, 2019). Primarily, these fires are caused by cooking, heating, carelessness and electrical malfunction (U.S. FIre Administration, 2019). The Fire Stompers program is beneficial, in part, because it teaches children about these common causes of fire and how they can avoid these hazards. Doing things like never leaving something cooking unattended on the stove, for example, is a life habit the Fire Stompers program teaches. Not only can this habit save the life of a child today, it can save their life and the life of their future family as they grow into adults. Children are also taught how to prevent potential dangers caused by heating devices, candles and open flames.
Once children know how to prevent fires, they need to have a clear way to escape them and call the fire department if their home ever catches on fire. Doing things like developing an escape plan in advance and knowing where to go for help is important. That training has already saved lives, as was demonstrated in the story of a six-year-old Falls City boy getting help for his father.
Though the creator of the Fire Stompers program, Mr. Kenny Simpson, is no longer with us, current firefighters and the Chief are keeping the program alive. “The Fire Stompers program is a valuable asset to our community, and we are proud to support it and to ensure that local children receive the training and tools they need to stay safe,” said Gary Jorn, City Manager.
Gottula, L. (2018, July 11). Kenny Simpson, Forever a Fireman. Falls City Journal, p. 1.
Ractliffe, K. (2018, May 9). Fire department hosts red-hot demonstration for fire safety class. Falls City Journal, p. 1.
U.S. FIre Administration. (2019, October 14). U.S. Fire Administration Statistics. Retrieved from U.S. Fire Administration: usfa.fema.gov