"It's great our local fire department can come," said Evans International Elementary School third-grade teacher Chelsea Fargo, "If something happens and the kids see these guys faces, they'll recognize them."
The first unit of inquiry for Evans third graders, learning how communities organize themselves, is part of the school's International Baccalaureate program. The study on local government concluded with a visit from the Cimarron Hills Fire Department on the east side of the Colorado Springs metro area in unincorporated El Paso County.
The third grade team recognizes the importance of community involvement in learning, "It's awesome we get to do this for IB," said Fargo. "They have the chance to ask the questions they ask in the classroom, but now to the experts."
The firefighters told students how taxes fund fire departments to keep residents safe. They explained how residents provide the funds to pay salaries, build fire stations and buy trucks. The firefighters used a show-and-tell approach about equipment, discussing everything from hoses to the breathing apparatus they wear when fighting fires. The hands-on experience was well received by the students. "I know what they'll look like when they come to help," said third-grader Jodi Tyler, about seeing Lieutenant Matt Rasdall in full gear.
Students moved around the Cimarron Hills firetruck as they learned about hoses, axes, extrication tools and the different components of the vehicle. The visit was extra special for student Cadence Acree, ""It means a lot because my Dad used to be a firefighter. He quit to be in the Army."
The Cimarron Hills Fire crews are very active in supporting education in District 49. "Each shift has a different school in the district," said Lieutenant Rasdall, "We do events, get out to the schools and help educate our community."
At times, it seemed like the firefighters were having as much fun as they kids. "Most of the time they think we are cops," said firefigher Alex Farr, "but then they find out we are firefighters. What else is there?"
Students met with the firefighters for a little more than thirty minutes on a chilly, gray late morning. "This is one of my favorite things to do," Farr said. "We are here to help familiarize them with who we are, what tools we use and what we'll look like when we come to help."
"It's something concrete that they can see, feel and touch," said first year teacher Heather Leehang, "We'll be talking about this for weeks!"