• Jaime Wuillermin

Fire Prevention Week at local schools


Courtesy Photo Local schools celebrated Fire Prevention Week last week with a visit from the Hammonton Fire Department. Above: Some of the firefighters with their children at the Warren E. Sooy Jr. Elementary School. Pictured (l-r): Joe Lizza with his son Joseph, Sean Macri with his daughter Aubrie and Steven Sofia with his daughter Lucia.

One of the most exciting weeks for the students attending preschool and elementary school in Hammonton is Fire Prevention Week which was held last week, October 9-15. The smiles in anticipation of the large firetrucks and of course Sparky the Fire Department mascot could be seen on many faces throughout the classrooms. Sirens wailed and lights flashed as the fire trucks pulled into the schools throughout the town. Teachers and students poured out of the buildings and waited patiently for their turn to visit the local firefighters and of course Sparky the Fire Dog.


“As we deliver a different themed message each year to the children, the most important message that stays the same each year is that we do not want children to be afraid of us or hide from us, in promoting this message is why we allow teachers to wear our gear and try to promote a good relation between children and a suited-up firefighter,” firefighter Anthony J. Berenato, who also serves as the town’s Construction Official, Fire Sub Code Official, Head of Construction Office, said.


Students were allowed to see inside the firetruck, some teachers were allowed to try on firefighter jackets and boots too! A few selected teachers even had a chance to take a ride up in the bucket on the firetruck ladder all the way to the top above the school taking view down below at the students and school building.


“In 1920, President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed October 9th the first Fire Prevention Day, calling on the public to learn more about the risks of deadly fires and commemorating the thousands who had lost their lives to these tragedies. More than a century later, our Nation observes Fire Prevention Week by renewing our commitment to fire safety and preparedness and taking steps to prevent fires in our homes, schools, workplaces and the great outdoors.


We also honor the bravery and heroism of our firefighters, who gear up time and again and rush into harm’s way to protect our communities,” President Joseph R. Biden Jr. said in a proclamation on fire prevention week, 2022 that was distributed from the White House briefing room on October 7, 2022.


One of the main reasons the Hammonton Volunteer Fire Department takes the time to visit our elementary schools is to provide the students with information on fire safety as well as documentation to bring home to parents. The knowledge on fire safety is important to remind everyone of ways they can prevent and protect their loved ones in case of a fire emergency.


Younger students that may be shy around the firefighters would be engaged by the firefighters in full gear to help them understand the importance of trusting the firefighters in emergency situations instead of running or hiding which could be devastating in a fire emergency. Schools that were visited from the Hammonton Volunteer Fire Department this year were Hammonton Early Childhood Education Center, Warren E. Jr. Sooy Elementary, READ Preschool, Little Cubs, Carmel Children’s House, and Toddler Town.


“We try to follow the annual theme that is nationally recognized. This year was ‘Fire won’t wait, Plan your escape.’ It is difficult sometimes to relay info to the younger kids. We just want them excited about seeing us, and Sparky,” Hammonton Fire Chief Sean Macri said.


Local residents that want more information on fire safety and prevention can reach out to the fire department. In an emergency situation always dial 911. Macri and other firefighters are available to answer any questions and can be found at the two fire stations on most Wednesday nights.


“We do our best to educate at town events, when residents visit our stations, and when there is a call for service” Macri Said.