COVINGTON — Newton College & Career Academy (NCCA) pre-kindergarten students are studying fire safety and community workers this month and they recently got a surprise visit from some of the very heroes they are learning more about. Just in time for Fire Prevention Week, members of the Newton County Fire Service stopped by to talk to the students and even give them the opportunity to sit in a big, red fire truck.

“The students have been studying the roles and responsibilities of firefighter and learning about who we call in case of an emergency,” said Tonia Middlebrooks, one of NCCA’s Pre-K instructors. “They’ve been learning stop, drop and roll if your clothes catch on fire and also how important it is to draw a map and discuss with your family a meeting place in case your house catches on fire.”

According to Middlebrooks, the students have also learned what a fire detector sounds like as well as the difference between hot and cold items that you can and cannot touch.

“At this age we are working with children on what do in the event their clothes catch on fire with a student practicing stop, drop, and roll,” added James Franklin, fire safety specialist for the Newton County Fire Service. “We are also talking about the difference between toys and tools in that matches and lighters are tools for grownups and children should never play with them. And finally we discuss calling 911 only for emergencies and how important it is to learn their address.”

Franklin also noted the department meets with the young students to build trust between the children and the firefighters in the event they come face-to-face with a real, live firefighter in an emergency situation.

“In Pre-K we really want to introduce children to firefighters to form a bond of trust with them so they know that firefighters are there to help,” Franklin explained. “By having our firefighter put all of his gear on, children are allowed to see and touch the gear and learn that he is the same person he was before he put his gear on and that they should not be afraid.”

In addition to Franklin, the students met Newton County Fire Service Engineers Bryan Anderson and T.J Parten and firefighters William Maxwell and Eric Garner.

“We want to thank the firefighters for taking the time to come out and meet with our Pre-K students,” said Chad Walker, principal of NCCA. “During an emergency situation, a firefighter wearing a full fire suit may look scary to someone that young. By having them come in and dress out for the students, they got to see that the firefighter is just like you and me — he or she is only wearing a fire suit for protection.”

Walker added, “The students loved getting to meet with and talk to the firefighter. And of course, they loved getting in the firetruck!”

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I have been editor of the Rockdale Citizen since 1996 and editor of the Newton Citizen since it began publication in 2004. I am also currently executive editor of the Clayton News Daily, Henry Daily Herald and Jackson Progress-Argus.

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