Bringing Fire Education to the classroom

#topekatweetalong this week tagged along with Topeka's Fire Education Officer Mitchell Paige


  1. This tweet-a-long started as an opportunity to showcase the Topeka Police Department's new(ish) Fire Education Officer Mitchell Paige, who just took on the duties in August.
  2. However, I ended up learning a lot about how unprepared I am in the event of a fire.
  3. Namely, that a single spark can bring down a house in 4 minutes. That's not a lot of time to evacuate, and if you (like me) don't have an evacuation plan, your life could be in danger.
  4. So here's how to make a fire escape plan of your own:
  5. 1. Draw the inside of your home, every room and bathroom and hallway
  6. 2. Use a bright color to draw all your doors and windows
  7. 3. Note where all your fire alarms and sprinkler systems are. Hint: Ideally there should be a smoke alarm in each room (TFD offers free smoke alarms, call 368-4000).
  8. 4. Find at least two ways out of every room -- in case one exit is blocked. Your primary exit should be the easiest one, but remember (and practice) checking it first.
  9. 5. Identify a meeting place outside the home.
  10. 6. Practice your fire escape plan twice each year.
  11. So I've got my homework, and you should, too, if you don't yet have a plan. Having less than 4 minutes to escape during a fire is no joke.
  12. But that wasn't all Paige had to teach me today. I also learned fire is scarier than monsters...
  13. And how to put out a fire with an extinguisher. They're more powerful than they look!
  14. (Apparently you're not supposed to squat. Who knew?)
  15. Paige is out everyday presenting fire safety to different organizations, from schools and businesses to NIAs and other groups. He tailors the presentation to the audience. The fire extinguisher prop is for businesses.
  16. At schools, Paige does four presentations at each class. The first is on what firefighters do. Second is on fire escape plans. Third is about fire safety and flammables. And the fourth goes through when you should call 911 -- which is trickier than you think given today's technology.
  17. For just being on the job for a couple of months, Paige is crushing it. Teachers gushed about how well he does with children, and he has a ton of thank you cards from kids in his office. It's the sweetest thing ever.