By Lana L. Alviar, Mission Education Projects Inc. (MEPI)
On a foggy Friday morning in July children from Mission Education Projects Inc. (MEPI) visited the San Francisco Fire Department Live Fire Training Facility to watch the men and women of the SFFD practice various drills and to experience the life of a firefighter. The children were told that these drills would help the firefighters enhance their skills and prepare them for a real fire emergency.

Before the drill began we were welcomed by Lieutenant Sam Romero, who explained to the children what they would be seeing that day. While we waited for the drill to begin, Lieutenant Romero invited the children to feed the duck that lives there. Each child was given a piece of bread and quickly proceeded to feed the duck that happily accepted these treats.

The drill began as a fire truck and a fire engine came on scene. One group of firefighters prepared themselves to enter a burning building by donning their special equipment that would protect them from the dangers associated with a fire. Another group of firefighters set up a ladder and made their way to the roof of the building. The firefighters cautiously climbed the ladder to the top of the building were they proceeded to cut a hole in the roof with a chainsaw. The children were fascinated by this scene and noted that it takes time, patience, and skill to complete this task.

After this drill was completed, the children were allowed to enter a building that had rooms that represented a bedroom and a kitchen. While in the bedroom it was explained to the kids that when there is a fire they should get as low as possible because heat rises and the safest place for them would be closest to the ground. Also, during a real fire there would be very heavy black smoke, which they would not be able to see through. With that said, a flame that went up the wall was turned on and the heat was felt by all. Following this, the children were told to get as low as possible and then the heat from a flame that came across the ceiling was felt. The children were awe struck by this feeling and sight. All though the heat was not as intense as a real fire the children understood the importance of staying low during a fire. With that message firmly planted in their heads our group was off to experience more about the life of a firefighter.

The children were shown how firefighters hook up the hoses to a hydrant and the significance of the different colored hoses. Many had never noticed that there was more than one color hose. After the hose was hooked up to the hydrant each child was given a chance to feel what it is like to use the hose. Some noted that it was bigger than their hoses at home and that the water pressure was much greater. With that they were told that what they were feeling was strong but when fighting a real fire it is much stronger.

Some of the children in our group were allowed to try on a Scott. They were informed that the equipment they were wearing weighed approximately 35 pounds and along with other equipment, a firefighter would be carrying an added 65 pounds. When the kids tried to walk with this on, they were unable to stand straight and came to the conclusion that to be a firefighter you must be very strong.

Prior to this day many of the little ones, boys and girls alike, had dreams of becoming firefighters in the future. Because of everything they experienced during their walk through the life of a firefighter, their dreams became even more vivid and a greater admiration for the men and women of the San Francisco Fire Department was developed.

It is with great gratitude that the children and staff of MEPI would like to thank Captain Joe Wright, Lieutenant Sam Romero, Lieutenant Joe Douglas, Lieutenant Dennis Balich, and Firefighter Murphy of the Treasure Island Live Fire Training Facility and Lieutenant Charles Crane and Firefighter Eddie Londano of Fire Station #37 for allowing us to experience this day. Thanks also to Firefighter Michael Orlando of Fire Station #9.


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