Field Notes
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Field Notes Entry   
INNOKO:Fire Safety Makes a Big Impression on Small Children in McGrath, Alaska
Alaska Region, February 15, 2012
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Fire Management Officer Kristi Bulock hands out Junior Firefighter stickers to pre-school students in McGrath Alaska.
Fire Management Officer Kristi Bulock hands out Junior Firefighter stickers to pre-school students in McGrath Alaska. - Photo Credit: Photo Credit: Rosalie Egrass

Young children are naturally curious about fire. And in the town of McGrath in Alaska’s Interior, where woodstoves and campfires are part of everyday life and wildfire is part of the landscape, lessons about fire start early.

 Kristi Bulock, Fire Management Officer (FMO) at the Innoko National Wildlife Refuge, partnered with the McGrath Volunteer Fire Department in December to teach children from the local Headstart program about fire safety during Fire Safety Week. McGrath, with a population of about 350, is where the refuge staff is based. The community is surrounded by black spruce forests with a long history of wildfire. In addition to her duties as the Southwest Area Refuges FMO, Bulock is also a member of the local volunteer fire department.

Though the eight children were pre-schoolers, they took quickly to lessons about fire safety in the home and about wildland fire. In the classroom, they learned the importance of smoke detectors. They also learned how to stop, drop, and roll if their clothing ever catches fire. In addition, they learned the importance of completely extinguishing a campfire and to notify an adult if they see an unattended fire.

From school, they headed to the firehouse, where they got a tour of the equipment and a chance to sit in the fire truck. The volunteer firefighters showed the students the personal protective clothing and equipment they wear.

Each student received a sticker to put on their bedroom window, to serve as notice to firefighters that the room is occupied by a child. When all the lessons were done, they also received Junior Firefighter stickers. For their “homework” the children were instructed to tell their parents what they learned and to talk with their parents about how to respond to a fire at home—what to do when the alarm sounds and where to gather safely in the event of an evacuation.

“They also learned that fighting fire is about teamwork,” Bulock said. “The volunteer fire department is a community effort, no matter who you work for.”


For more information contact  Kristi Bulock, (907) 524-2033

Contact Info: Maureen Clark, (907) 786-3469, Maureen_Clark@fws.gov
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