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Zerega Community Association hosts fire-safety experience

Kids in the summer program at the Zerega Community Association learned some potentially life saving skills for themselves and their families when they took part in a lifelike fire simulator last week. 

The Fire Department’s Bureau of Training’s Fire Safety Education Unit sent a fire safety house, a trailer set up on a street that simulates the smoke conditions of a real fire, to the civic group’s summer program for children ages 6-12 at their clubhouse at 1551 Parker Street on Thursday, July 31.

The children learned techniques they can use to safely exit a building or house that is on fire, and got other helpful tips from firefighters on how to prevent fires from starting in the first place. 

“I think this is a great program the FDNY prepares for the kids,” said ZCA president Dominick Masullo, Sr. “What better way than to go into a house that is smoking, and then try to get out. It is a good program, and it should appear in more areas of the Bronx.”

Masullo added that the summer program his group runs for neighborhood children is completely funded by money raised by the association, independent of elected officials. Fire safety is one of many things the children learn over the summer.

“The fire safety house shows children how to get out of a home or apartment that is on fire,” noted FDNY chief Bill Hydo, of the important knowledge he hopes children never have to employ, but feels everyone needs to understand.

“We are out in all five boroughs with the fire education safety unit teaching kids, adults, and seniors about the topic,” he continued. 

Firefighter George Tabeek, who was also present at the event, said that fire safety training could be tailored to the needs of any organization that asks for the program.

For the kids in attendance, the smoke filled house was not only an adventure, but also provided a valuable learning experience.

“We learned about fire, and about stopping and dropping, using our right hand to get out of the house or school quickly,” said 7-year-old Kevin Tirado. “We were taught not to play with lighters and matches – only grown ups can use those.”

For some, the experience was quite harrowing, like a real fire.

“We fought the smoke and we were coughing until we found a side door to get out,” said 7-year-old Rueben Sanabria. “We learned also that we need to touch the doorknob of doors to make sure it is not hot, and to feel around with our right hand to find our way out of a building if it is on fire.”

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