A Lack of Funding Could End a Fire Safety Training Program for Kids
The Walla Walla Fire Department is doing everything it can to continue a fire safety training program for kindergarten and elementary school students.
Because of a cut in funding, the Safety Always Matters Program may no longer take place.
The two-day course consists of a simulated scenerio of a house fire and students are trained to know exactly what to do.
Once they hear the alarm and see smoke filling up the room they get down on the floor, feel to see if the door is hot, check to make sure there is no fire between them and an exit and quickly escape to safety.
"The unique part of it to us is that it goes and teaches the kids, I mean you don't get this kind of training anywhere else," said Chris Worden, a firefighter with the Walla Walla Fire Department. "The fire department comes and teaches it to them."
With a lack of funding, this program may end after this year.
"Our fear is that if these programs, which are in peril, because of budgets across the nation going away, you're going to see the amount of fires increasing and the number of fire deaths increasing," said Chief Bob Yancey of the Walla Walla Fire Department. "Our kids are our most valuable resource, we want to make sure they're safe."
The program has been taught thoughout kindergarten and elementary schools in Walla Walla for 22 years and has produced positive results.
A second grade student who took the course in 2008 used what he learned during a real house fire, he woke up his family and escorted them to safety.
The city recently had to cut the course out of the 2013-2014 fire budget, leaving firefighters to figure out how to pay for the $10,000 to $15,000 program themsleves.
However, the city says this program is very imporant and city officials are doing all they can come up with that money.
"Ideally we will recover from this recession and we will be able to give a greater stability to those programs so the schools, children and the families know that they can count on them being delivered ever year," said City Manager Nabiel Shawa.
Firefighter Chris Worden said he understands money can be tight but he fears of what may happens without the training.
"But this can save lives, my fear would be that someone's going to die or someone is going to get hurt," said Worden.
The fire department was able to obtain a grant from a company called Monsanto to keep this years classes going.