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TEACHERS GET LOWDOWN ON FIRE PREVENTION

Teaching children about fire safety is easier - and less expensive - for teachers than for firefighters.

That's why the Provo Fire Department has been seeking a "Learn Not to Burn" grant from the National Fire Protection Association for several years. Now that department officials have secured the grant, they are wasting no time in introducing the association's school-based fire prevention program to Provo School District teachers and administrators.Provo Fire Chief Rod Jones and "Learn Not to Burn" coordinator Lynn Scofield directed a teacher development seminar Wednesday for 19 Provo teachers who will incorporate the curriculum into their classrooms next year. So far, the professional blaze busters like what they see.

"Fire prevention is the name of the game," Jones said. "It's so much more effective to prevent fires rather than just put them out. The idea is to develop a mindset of fire safety in the younger generation."

The pilot fire safety program will be taught along with the three R's at Provost Elementary, TLC for Kids day-care center and Brigham Young University's preschool this fall. Fire department officials hope "Learn Not to Burn" will soon become part of every Provo schoolchild's education.

"This is a program that's really going to take off for us," Scofield said. "It's a very hands-on type of curriculum. When we teach `stop, drop and roll,' we are going to `stop, drop and roll."'

Teachers of students in preschool through third grade will spend 10 hours of class time spread over 12 weeks to teach children about the dangers of fire and ways to avoid getting hurt. Once the minicourse is completed, the Provo Fire Department will transport its fire safety house trailer to each school so students can try out what they've learned.

The trailer, which the fire department built thanks to a $25,000 community development block grant, includes miniature versions of a kitchen, living room and bedroom. It also has a telephone, smoke detector and the capability of filling itself with non-toxic theatrical smoke. Fire officials say schoolchildren will participate in role playing that simulates a burning house.

"Once they've done it one time for real, what they've learned becomes a part of their life," said Dennis Moss, fire marshal. "They'll remember it much better than if they just heard it in a classroom."

Fire department officials say the trailer will also serve as a fire prevention display at community events like the Freedom Festival and BYU football games. The 32-foot mobile fire safety classroom is said to be the first of its kind in Utah.