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The Chumash Fire Department recently hosted a group of young students to learn about fire preparedness at the tribe’s fire station on the Santa Ynez Reservation. The fire crew hosted 17 children from the Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy, teaching the first graders about everything from firefighting tools to forest management.

The Chumash firefighters began with a lesson on simple fire safety techniques such as “stop, drop and roll” and what to do in a fire emergency. They then gave a presentation on the various fire strategies and tools the department uses when out on fire assignments across the country, including how to use a pick and flathead ax and the advancements in thermal imaging cameras, which allow firefighters to see if a fire is inside the walls of a burning structure and if people are trapped.

From there, crew members demonstrated their daily drills, including “donning” personal protective equipment (PPE), a drill that involves putting on 40 pounds of firefighting equipment in less than two minutes, including boots, pants, coat, gloves, hood, helmet, self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and face piece.

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The most exciting part of the afternoon for the children was when they toured the inside of a fire truck and were given a chance to use a fire hose that sprays as much as 500 gallons of water per minute.

“Our students had a fun, unique visit, and left with a far better understanding of what to do in a fire emergency,” said Shelly Leeson, first grade teacher for the Santa Ynez Valley Christian Academy. “A big thanks to the Chumash Fire Department for taking the time to teach our students about fire safety and prioritizing fire education for our first graders.”

“The Chumash Fire Department takes great pride in helping protect our tribal community and beyond,” said Gilbert Romero, Assistant Fire Chief for the Chumash Fire Department. “Part of this public service is educating the community, especially the younger generations, about what they can do to prevent fires and what to do in a life-threatening emergency.”

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