Gurnee Fire Department delivers $66,000 in books to school libraries
By Dan Moran firstname.lastname@example.org | @NewsSunDanMoran October 9, 2013 6:04PM
Katie Sellnow with the Gurnee Fire Department helps Spaulding Elementary School second-grader Jayvon Scott pick out a fire-safety book to take home out of a collection donated by the department through a $66,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.| Dan Moran/Sun-Times Media
Updated: November 11, 2013 12:12PM
GURNEE — October is the month when a child’s fascination with fire trucks provides fertile ground to educate them on how to stay safe in an emergency.
“When does a fire usually happen?” asked Patricia Sutor, a second-grader at Spaulding Elementary School in Gurnee, when officials from the Gurnee Fire Deparment visited her school library on Wednesday, Oct. 9.
“Well, a fire can happen at any time — when you’re sleeping or when you’re wide awake,” said Katie Sellnow, a fire inspector who also serves as the department’s public education coordinator.
“Do you see more at day or more at night?” Patricia asked as a follow-up.
“Hmm, they usually call me when I’m sleeping, so I’m going to go with the middle of the night,” Sellnow said. “That is a very good question.”
Exchanges like these are being heard across the U.S. through activities designed around National Fire Prevention Week 2013, which runs from Oct. 6-12. The annual commemoration provided the perfect opportunity for officials from the fire department, village and school to unveil the fruits of a $66,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s School Safety program.
Designed in part to provide fire-safety materials for local libraries, the grant funds were divided between schools in Districts 50 and 56 as well as the Warren-Newport Public Library. At Spaulding School, officials installed a permanent display of children’s books dubbed the “Fire Safety Corner.”
“The Gurnee Fire Department did a really wonderful thing for us,” librarian Betsy McLaughlin told a group of about a dozen students who earned an invitation to the unveiling through positive behavior. “And not just for our school, but schools all over Gurnee.
“What they did (was) buy us all kinds of books about fires and fire safety and firemen and fire engines and everything you ever wanted to know about fires, and we have them in a special place,” added McLaughlin, who noted that the new collection includes such classic titles as “The Little Fire Engine” by Lois Lenski, a staple in U.S. schools since 1946.
As the children gathered for their first shot at taking out the new books, Gurnee Fire Chief Fred Friedl said his department always looks to expand that National Fire Prevention Week into a wider learning opportunity for local children.
“We do prevention programs all month long, and we actually started this year in late September,” Friedl said. “We do some preschool, and then we start with kindergarten up through fourth grade — we’ll do stop-drop-and-roll with certain grades and (lessons about) calling 911. With fourth grade, we work with both the students and the families to do a drawing of their home with an escape route.”
Friedl added that older students are encouraged to get in on the action as well.
“We wouldn’t mind going even a little bit further than (fourth grade),” he said. “That’s why with this program — with the books and CDs — the middle school has access to all the materials as well. As a matter of fact, we were just over at Woodland, at the Intermediate School.”
And, as might be expected from children starting to think about their future, Friedl said part of that discussion included questions about careers in fire service.