Students learn safety tips from the Red Cross and Fire Department

Community in Action

Through a partnership with the NW Region American Red Cross and Bellingham Fire Department, students throughout Bellingham Public Schools are learning about fire safety and emergency preparedness.

The Red Cross provides disaster preparedness presentations to all age groups, but has geared these presentations for second grade students.

The presentation includes information about fire safety and the Pillowcase Project, which is designed to empower students to respond to natural disasters with confidence. Students practice earthquake drills and learn about the importance of being prepared for a disaster. Each student is given a pillowcase to decorate and to use as their own disaster supply kit.

Quinn Butler works with the NW Region Red Cross as an AmeriCorps/Disaster Preparedness Coordinator. He said he hopes the presentations will teach students that disasters can hit at any moment, which is why it is important to be prepared.

“We have received a lot of positive feedback from the students and teachers following the presentations, and I can say from my end that it’s been a really great experience,” Butler said.

Ron Richard, Division Chief for the Life Safety Division said, the Fire Department spends time talking to the students about home fires, fire alarms, having an evacuation plan, how to call 911 and crawling to avoid smoke. Students also observe a firefighter in full protective gear to ease fears of what emergency responders would look like entering a house during a fire.

“Our goal is to help children gain an appreciation of the danger of fire, preparedness actions they and their family can take to reduce the likelihood of a fire or to be more prepared if a fire occurs; knowing and practicing two paths out of their room, the importance of a working smoke alarm, and actions they can take in the event of a fire,” said Richard.

The presentations are geared toward elementary audiences. The Fire Department shares the book, “No Dragons for Tea,” which presents fire safety in a fun way.

“All of our youth preparedness programs include age-appropriate information,” said Butler. “We encourage students to engage with us throughout our presentation because we don’t want them to feel like we are providing a lecture. Our presentations are fun and include hands-on activities for the students to practice the skills they are taught.”

The Fire Department and Red Cross have shared their presentation with eight Bellingham elementary schools so far, they hope to reach all 14 by the end of the year. In the future, they hope to expand the presentation to more students.

Interested in having this presentation in your classroom? Contact Quinn Butler at or 360-733-3290 x1027.

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