Archive for Thursday, January 18, 2007

Culinary arts students get surprise fire training

January 18, 2007

If a souffle incinerates or a pot of baked beans bursts into flame, Jason Gray's culinary arts classes will be ready.

The class gained first-hand experience Jan.11 at a live fire training exercise led by Eudora City Councilman Bill Whitten with help from Keith Spence and Avi Elpern of the Eudora City Fire Department. Whitten works as a firefighter in Lenexa.

He began by explaining the basic role of the extinguisher to the class.

"We use this as the first line of defense," Whitten said.

If a fire erupts, the students should use the extinguisher to completely put out the fire or make it more manageable for the firefighters when they come, Whitten said.

If it's a small fire, Whitten told the students they could put the fire out by pouring in salt or snuffing it with a lid.

He also advised the students to avoid using flour to attempt to extinguish the flame.

"Ever hear of an explosion in a grain silo?" Whitten asked.

The floating grain particles fuel the explosions, Whitten said.

If the fire is too big, Whitten advised the students to call a fire department and always err on the side of safety.

As part of Gray's course at the Eudora/De Soto Technical-Education Center, students learn the concepts needed to both cook and run a restaurant.

Whitten's exercise marked a departure from the standard fire safety lesson, Gray said.

It didn't take long for Gray to make a decision when he heard what Whitten intended.

"I jumped at the opportunity," Gray said.

It instills into the students in life what Gray taught in the classroom, he said.

After Whitten finished the general overview of how to use the fire extinguisher, the class found out exactly how different the lesson would be.

"This is a live burn. We do have a live fire out there. People can be injured," Whitten said.

Once outside, Whitten handed out fire extinguishers to the students.

He pulled a pin from the extinguisher. The chemicals shot forth and he moved the spray from side to side as if he were suffocating an imaginary flame.

After finishing the example, Whitten fired up a trash can used as a training tool for firefighters.

He watched the students one by one follow his example.

It was a new experience for Eudora High School sophomore Michael Bricker.

"I feel safer now that I have done it," he said.

Heartland of America, Inc. provided the fire extinguishers for the lessons.

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