Local firefighters bring some wet summer fun to Saint Sophia SchoolAug 29, 2019 09:38AM ● By Heather Lawrence
Kids from the Saint Sophia School in Holladay capped off their water week summer camp with a visit from the Unified Fire Department July 26. (Heather Lawrence/City Journals)
By Heather Lawrence | [email protected]
The Saint Sophia School in Holladay welcomed the Unified Firefighters from Station 104 on July 26. The crew makes several trips to the school throughout the year to teach fire safety. This visit ended with kids getting soaked with the water hose.
“We have a good partnership with the firefighters and invite them here often to do presentations. During the warmer months we can come outside and the kids get to tour the truck and all the equipment. When it’s cold outside, we stay inside and talk about ways to safely get out of our house in case there’s a fire,” said Brittany Hawkins, education director for Saint Sophia School.
The fire safety demonstration was the culmination of water week at the Saint Sophia School. Like many private schools and recreation centers around the valley, Saint Sophia hosted summer camps all season long.
“Our typical school year is only for preschool, but the summer camps go up to age 10. We get a lot of students returning to the summer camps each year, which is really fun,” Hawkins said.
During the demonstration, kids got to show off their fire safety knowledge. Crew member Wade Winder pulled up storage panels on the sides of the truck and asked, “Who knows what this is?” kids yelled, “A fire extinguisher!” When he pulled up the storage door covering an axe, one kid said, “Axes are cool!”
After the truck tour, students gathered around Capt. Steve Schaugaard. He put out his turnout gear while talking to the kids. “Even though I look different, it’s still me under all this. These are all my special tools to help you get out of a fire as soon as possible,” Schaugaard said to the kids through his oxygen mask.
Schaugaard said he is frequently at schools. “We do this so that the kids can see that we aren’t scary. The local fire department is a big part of the community, and fire safety education is a huge part of what we do,” he said.
“We want to prevent accidents and issues in the future. If we can get with little kids and teach them while they’re young, hopefully we’ll prevent something bad from happening down the road,” Schaugaard said.
He also said the education is helpful for any adults in attendance. “We’re funded by taxes, so it’s nice to get out and answer any questions that adults might have. Why are there always four crew members on a truck? Why does a fire truck show up if you call 911 for a medical emergency? We can answer all these questions,” he said.
Schaugaard also said that even if the kids are too young to really understand and remember everything, they love touring the truck, meeting the firefighters and getting a sticker or hat. Schaugaard said that positive impression will stick with them.
After the truck tour and the turnout gear demonstration, the crew hooked their hose up to the fire hydrant for some fun. Kids ran across the field in swim suits while Winder stood on top of the truck and sprayed them. The kids screamed and laughed.
After about 10 minutes, one crew member led some students over to the truck. He was carrying a smaller water tank and started spraying Winder, who was operating the hose. Before a full-on water fight could break out, it started raining, which was the crew’s signal to end.
Schaugaard said he understands some people might question using water from the hose for fun, but he said it’s a balance. “Is it a waste of water? Maybe. Yes, this is a desert and in a drier year maybe we wouldn’t do it. But the kids love it, and it’s something they’ll remember,” Schaugaard said.
Hawkins asked the students what they’d learned during the presentation. “I know that if I’m in a fire, I’ll yell, ‘Over here!’ really loud so that the fire fighters can find me,” one said. Another said, “I know what [the firefighters] put on and what they look like. I’m not going to run and hide from them.”
And in case you’re wondering, Greek for “fire hose” is πυροσβεστική μάνικα, or pyrosvestikí mánika.