Wildland Fire Crew Shares Stories of Fighting Forest Fires with Students

In theory, three 4th and 5th grade student groups full of energy and in an enclosed space sounds like a recipe for disaster.  However, when Globe Charter School, Buena Vista and Queen Palmer Elementary School’s Young Environmental Stewards (YES) Clubs came together for a field trip to the El Paso County Fire Base, home of The El Paso County Wildland Fire Crew (EPSOWF), to learn about how the firemen attack forest fires. The students found themselves intrigued and fully engaged in learning about all aspects of firefighting.

Each club rotated to different stations to learn about the various roles and tools of the firemen.  One station explained what happens when firefighters have to leave for days at a time to combat significant fires.  As the firemen explained the hardships of being in the field for an extended period of time, the students asked contemplative questions, their curiosity clearly sparked.  A memorable moment included the firemen speaking about their catered meals while on the field. The students compared the firemen’s meals to their own cafeteria meals, mostly complaining that the firemen were treated better than them! After hearing more about the work the firemen did to protect communities from the significant danger fires present, the students came to peace with the idea that the firemen’s food should be better than theirs since they work hard to protect their communities. While a superficial sentiment, this query about food highlighted the student’s spirit of inquiry and love of learning new things while realizing the importance of fire fighters.

A child’s dream come true, we toured the fire station, observing various equipment and vehicles used by the firemen. While the students considered the firefighting tools interesting, the real fascination lay with the fire truck.  While not bright red as many of the kids’ thought it would be, the technology and different elements of the fire truck really piqued their interest.  At the end of the tour, the kids got the chance to sit in the back of the truck and observe the interior while trying on headphones and posing for photos.  The YES Club came away from this important visit with an increased understanding of fire control and prevention while having fun exploring a fire station. - Katherine Guerrero, Colorado College

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Catamount Institute’s Young Environmental Stewards(YES) Club, is an award-winning, innovative, science-based program designed for 4th and 5th graders. The YES program combines environmental science, community service, technology and leadership in one fun and active after school program that will get students excited about science and engaged in real research. For more information visit www.catamountinstitute.org

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