What do I do when a teacher alerts me to a child who has been identified as one that likes to play with fire? Referral to your departments Youth fire setter program or fire prevention bureau.
What is a strategy you use to calm a rowdy audience? Often times a school will have a quiet sign such as quiet coyote, a clap, or a whistle/bell sound or something similar they use for their students. Ask a teacher or administrator before the presentation begins.
When asking for questions at the end kids often start telling stories. What do I do to get back on track? When asking for questions always remind your audience what a question is (starts with who what why where or how) and if they begin to tell a story feel free to cut in and turn their story into a question for the larger group. For example if a kid starts with "once, my neighbors car was on fire..." you can stop the story there and ask the audience if they see a car on fire is that an emergency and what number to call in case of emergencies then moving on to the next question smoothly.
Do I need to modify my script for special needs children in the audience? If an instructor hasn’t identified them before the presentation begins and you notice there are a few kids with special needs in the audience we continue to give the presentation to the larger assembly. If you’re able to, ask the teacher of those students at the end if there’s a way you can reinforce or offer additional information for those students.
What about the kid that asks about if there’s fire all around them and there's no place to stop drop and roll or a plane crashes into their house etc? The fantastical questions aren’t often but they do come up. Kids are creative and unafraid of challenging adults perceptions on reality. We try to get them back to basics of the seven key points and remind them that we as firefighters will be there extremely quickly to help them and their families so they won’t have to deal with these types of situations by themselves.
There usually at least one kid that asks about pets or younger siblings. Should I go back and get my brother/sister or dog/cat/turtle/fish/snake/hamster etc...? We always remind the kids that no, they are NEVER to go back into the house or delay their own escape for even a second. As firefighters we will go get them as soon as we arrive. Their job is to tell us where their siblings and pets live in the house so we can go get them immediately.
Teachers or administers ask us about grief counseling or emotional comfort and ask if we will talk to a student because he/she saw their neighbors house burn or pet is missing after a fire etc. None of us are certified in psychotherapy and in no way qualified to counsel any child especially in the academic environment. This is another case of referral to professionals. Your FD headquarters will have referral information for these instances.
Kids like to ask for the same presenters to come back the next year, is this possible? Yes, of course if you’ve presented at a school and they want you specifically to come back we can certainly accommodate this in the schedule.
Older kids love to ask us if stop drop and roll will catch the carpet or ground you are rolling on to catch fire. This is a simple reminder of the science of smothering a fire and reassuring them that if they stop drop and roll they will remove the oxygen and smother the fire until it goes out. Remind them to keep rolling until the fire is completely out.
What if I lose my place where I’m at in the presentation or forget a key point? The outline and script are there for you to use as a guide, use them as much as you need. Also, feel free to go back for a review of points you've already discussed to get your flow back and remind you of next topics. More repetition is better for learning reinforcement anyway. The script is in a natural flow and set up to transition from one point to the next seamlessly. Use it until you don’t need it any longer.