Fire Department, Schools Work Together For Safe Classrooms - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Fire Department, Schools Work Together For Safe Classrooms

October 8th, 2018 SanTan Sun News
Fire Department, Schools Work Together For Safe Classrooms

By City of Chandler

In an unpredictable world, protecting children from danger is a responsibility shared by parents, teachers, public safety professionals and many others in the community.

Fires and burns are some of the leading causes of death for children, making fire prevention education critical for their safety and survival.

Thanks to an ongoing partnership among local schools and the Chandler Fire Department, parents of many Chandler first- and second-graders can feel more confident that their children are receiving the fire safety instruction they need.

The Partnership for L.I.F.E. program – L.I.F.E. stands for Learning In Firesafe Environments – is a successful collaboration between the Chandler Fire Department and the Chandler Unified School District and local charter schools.

The program places specially trained firefighters (Fire Pals) in classrooms to educate first- and second-grade students in a variety of fire safety subjects, while also involving teachers and school custodians in the safety inspection process.

“We think it is beneficial for these young students to meet our firefighters face-to-face, to see them throughout the school year and get to know them,” Chandler Fire Battalion Chief Jeff West said. “It helps demystify what firefighters do and helps to reduce some of the anxiety these kids may experience when they think about dangerous situations they might have to face.

“We want them to think about potential dangers but to know that if they listen to their Fire Pals and their teachers, they will be prepared to act with confidence in an emergency situation. And that could make the difference between life and death.”

Partnership for L.I.F.E. was first introduced into select Chandler elementary schools in 2013, and the program has proven its value with teachers, administrators and parents ever since, as it has expanded into 30 CUSD and three charter schools for the 2018-19 school year.

To become a partner school, administrators have to commit to completing five program requirements.

First, the school must allow the CFD Fire Pals to conduct two hours of classroom instruction to educate all first- and second-grade students in six fire safety subjects.

These six messages include: Home Escape Planning; Crawl Low Under Smoke; Stop, Drop and Roll; Tool or Toy?; Calling “911”; and First Aid.

Second, teachers and custodians must conduct two classroom self-inspections during the school year, preferably at the beginning of the year and during the mid-year holiday season, to evaluate their areas for commonly found fire hazards.

Third, the school must conduct regular monthly fire drills and invite an on-duty CFD crew to supervise and evaluate one of these drills each year.

Fourth, the school must pass an annual inspection conducted by the fire prevention staff. The fifth and final requirement is to have at least 10 percent of a school’s teaching staff certified in cardio pulmonary resuscitation by the end of the school year.

Schools that successfully complete all five requirements earn a Partnership for L.I.F.E. certification decal to display for their students, parents and visitors, and the knowledge that their students are better prepared for emergencies.

Partnership for Life has received high marks and widespread support from school staff members and administrators.

In addition to making these first- and second-grade students “fire safe” through educational presentations, written materials and videos, another crucial step is to make the classrooms and school facilities as safe as possible.

“Having teachers and custodians support our efforts is key to the entire program because they can have a direct impact on preventing fire code violations,” West said. “We give them checklists to perform self-inspections of their areas, and they can avoid the most common violations when setting up their classrooms at the beginning of the year.”

The mid-year self-inspection helps minimize violations that may be caused by decorations that were added for the holidays. The final school inspection of the year is conducted by Chandler Fire inspectors.

In addition to the self-inspections, every school conducts fire drills, with at least two supervised by an on-duty CFD crew to ensure the evacuation and staging plan would work in the event of a real emergency. The department also conducts free CPR certification courses for school personnel during the school year.

With the school year well underway, the Chandler Fire Pals have been visiting classrooms and Partnership for L.I.F.E. training has begun. During the 2017-18 school year, all Chandler Unified School District elementary schools and three charter schools completed the Partnership for L.I.F.E. program requirements.

Fire Pals visited all of these schools, with more than 5,900 first- and second-grade students receiving the six basic fire safety lessons. All of the schools completed their first and second self-inspection sheets. More than 21,000 students and staff participated in supervised fire drills.

And 100 percent of the schools passed their annual fire safety inspection with flying colors. In addition, at least 10 percent of staff at all of the schools were certified in American Red Cross full CPR.

“Chandler Fire is proud of this program and grateful for the support of Chandler area administrators and teachers who are welcoming our Fire Pals into their classrooms,” Chandler Fire Chief Tom Dwiggins said.

“Chandler students are learning from some of the finest firefighters in the nation, and they are committed to protecting the well-being of these children and the adults who care for them. It’s a partnership that I know will save lives.”

Information: 480-782-2120 or