Firefighters focus on kids during Fire Prevention Week

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BARRE, Vt. (WCAX) It's Fire Prevention Week and crews across the state will be visiting schools with a very specific message.

The message this year is "not every hero wears a cape" and the focus is on making sure kids have and know two ways to escape their home.

"We always teach kids about making sure their smoke detectors work in their homes to go over that with your mom and dad," Barre Fire Chief Douglas Brent said.

All week long, members of the Barre City Fire and EMS will go to the Barre Elementary and Middle School.

"They are going to go up there and have lunch with the kids, they've got some brochures to hand out and they are going to talk to the kids," Brent said.

Nationally, the focus is on planning and practicing your escape.

"We really want the kids to be able to identify two ways out. That means two ways out of the bedroom, two ways out of their house, two ways out of wherever they may find themselves, whether it be a day care, a school, even a grocery store," Williston Firefighter Prescott Nadeau said.

Statistics from last year helped create this focus. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there were 350,000 fires in the U.S. last year.

Firefighters want kids to know how to get out on their own but also give them an up-close and personal look at the people who could save their life.

"We can kind of look and sound scary at times, especially if they were ever in an emergency where the room was dark and there was smoke and fire," Barre Fire Lt. Zachary Tillinghast said.

Newly promoted Lt. Tillinghast says if kids come home excited, it's important for parents and caregivers to capitalize on that excitement. That could mean explaining some of the basics like what the fire alarms and smoke detectors are there to do and what to do when they go off.

"To know that sometimes mom or dad might not be nearby but if there is a known place to meet outside of the house that's more safe, that everybody knows, that so they can all get out safely," said Lt. Tillinghast.

Chief Brent says it's outreach like this that helps reduce false alarms and prank calls and he says it's important to educate kids while they are young.

"It's going to sink in and they are going to get that message," he said.