By NATHAN GREGORY
Starkville Fire Department, in conjunction with the Mississippi Department of Health, is hosting a children’s fire academy during the week of July 16-20.
Though MDH has cosponsored Fire Academy for Kids for more than 70 fire academies since 1999, SFD’s academy is the first of its kind to be held in the city.
SFD Training Officer Charles Yarbrough said the program is designed to reach children 7 to 14 years of age. SFD firefighters will instruct at the academy from 9 a.m.-1 p.m. each day.
The academy will be open to the first 40 applicants who sign up.
Yarbrough said applications can be picked up at Fire Station No. 1 at 503 East Lampkin St. from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
According to statistics from Safe Kids USA, an estimated 116,000 children ages 14 or younger are injured by fire-related incidents, and 488 are killed in house fires. Yarbrough said Mississippi’s death rates due to fire are among the highest in the nation, and fire safety education is a key strategy in changing that, adding it is essential that parents familiarize themselves with fire related safety precautions at home.
“The kids fire academy was designed to help kids between the ages of 7 and 14 because that’s where the most deaths occur,” Yarbrough said. “We’re trying to keep them from dying and keep them from being injured.”
Yarbrough said children who attend the academy will learn the role of a firefighter, daily life at the fire station, basic first aid, CPR, fire safety exercises, disaster preparedness, home hazards, smoke detector installation and how to use fire extinguishers.
Mayor Parker Wiseman said the academy brings an opportunity for area children to learn more about the fire service and fire safety.
“Children are often the most effective advocates of fire safety in the home, so this provides an excellent opportunity for our fire department to send home an excited group of advocates for fire safety,” Wiseman said. “Additionally, it provides an opportunity for young people to learn more about fire service and other related fields as a potential career. Charles Yarbrough has done an exceptional job taking initiative to bring a Youth Fire Academy to Starkville.”
SFD will provide lunch each day and the academy will conclude with a commencement July 20 at 9:30 a.m.
For more information, contact Yarbrough or Marshal Stein McMullen at 662-323-1845.