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Fire safety resource for primary schools 12 September 2007

PRIMARY school children will benefit from a new Fire Safety interactive resource, provided to schools on the Isle of Man by Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service.

Launch of fire safety resource at Dhoon SchoolMember of the Department of Home Affairs with responsibility for Fire, George Waft MLC, and Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper presented the ‘Literacy Through Fire Safety Awareness’ pack to Education Minister Anne Craine MHK at Dhoon School this afternoon (September 12). The CD-ROM pack combines a 20-minute drama with interactive learning resources and teacher support material. It is the result of collaboration in 2005 between the Isle of Man Fire and Rescue Service and the then Manx Multimedia Centre to produce an interactive learning resource for years 5 and 6 primary pupils.

The project started when Community Fire Safety Officer Carl Kinvig approached Caroline Webster and Julie Laslett at the MMC, and proposed the idea of working together to create a video to be used in local schools. However, Caroline and Julie saw the potential to do more. The end result is an interactive resource, which supports literacy non-fiction, through the theme of fire safety in the home.

Carl worked closely with Julie and Caroline to ensure that the resource met fire safety needs. He explained:

‘Since my first visit, the project has developed beyond my wildest dreams. My brief as Community Fire Safety Officer is to make the public more aware of the danger of fire in the home and this project will not only help do that here on the Island, but also much further afield. It is my belief that this project through education will really help to make a difference .’

Education Minister Mrs Craine is impressed by the resource material. She commented:

‘I am very pleased to be receiving this fire safety pack which will be given to all of our primary schools. The pack contains a CD Rom which can be shown to the children together with an interactive lesson, similar to a computer game, which will appeal to that age group. This is an excellent way of delivering a very serious message. We can become quite relaxed about basic safety awareness as we grow older and it is important that we make our children aware of the dangers that lie in the risk of fire in the home and how to prevent accidental fire. It also prepares the children to think about planning what to do in the event of a fire, how to escape, stay safe and call the emergency services. I most certainly welcome this scheme – what the packs contain are really lessons for life.’

Mr Waft said:

‘This is an opportunity for children to cascade information though their domestic situations and hopefully to expand the audience it’s aimed at, to make people aware of potential problems and what they should do in an emergency. There’s nothing more effective than having children in a family questioning things, especially in regard to fire safety.’

The drama and concept for the interactive learning pack was devised and written by Julie Laslett and Caroline Webster, who also produced and directed the programme respectively. The drama was shot on location in Pulrose and in film studios on the Isle of Man with professional crew and actors. They were joined on set by Douglas Fire Station’s White Watch, who took on the challenge of fighting fire in front of the camera and overseeing the fire special effects.

‘It was a steep learning curve on both sides,’ said Caroline the director. ‘The day we spent on location rehearsing was invaluable as the film crew needed to learn about fire crew procedures and White Watch needed to learn how a film set operates.'

The drama is set in the fictitious town of Millsford and tells the story of the Khan family, who become trapped by a fire at their family home. Woken by the smoke alarm, Dad – played by Ace Bhatti – goes downstairs to investigate while Mum and the children prepare to leave the building. However, Dad’s actions cause the fire to spread, preventing a safe escape and putting the family’s lives at risk.

Chief Fire Officer Brian Draper was extremely keen to support the project:

‘This project has enabled the Fire and Rescue Service to embrace the Government’s strategic aim of creating safer communities through the development and delivery of an extremely professional and well-written educational programme,’ he said.

The resource is distributed by Dramatic Media Limited, the company formed by Julie and Caroline after the closure of the MMC.

‘The resource is being used by hundreds of schools throughout the UK,’ said Julie Laslett. ‘Teachers are always excited by the quality of the drama, which engages pupils and helps them achieve higher literacy outcomes.’

For more information about ‘Literacy through Fire Safety Awareness’ visit the dramatic media web site www.dramaticmedia.net.

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