GEORGE NEWS - The George Municipality Fire Department teamed up with Oakhurst Insurance to distribute the first of 1 500 fire blankets the insurance company donated to communities around George.
The fire blanket project, which kicked off in July and will roll out over the remainder of 2019, includes a detailed education campaign with demonstrations to mainly primary schools in outlying areas of the municipality.
George Fire Department platoon leader Santa Sternsdorf said the department had been approached by Oakhurst to assist with the distribution and related public education of specialised fire blankets the company had sponsored together with a Swiss business partner. "We decided to start with learners in Grade 6 and 7 because they are young enough to be impressionable but old enough to retain important fire safety information which could in turn be imparted to their people at home and in their communities."
Oakhurst staff joined in the fun as fire trucks arrived with sirens blaring at seven schools in the greater Uniondale and Wilderness area.
George Fire Department platoon leader Santa Sternsdorf presented a 30-minute fire safety talk before a 15-minute demonstration in which the children were shown how to use a fire blanket in a fire emergency. Each learner received a goody bag to take home which included the fire blanket with instructions and educational materials including fire safety-themed activity books and information booklets, and a certificate confirming they were part of the safety talk.
In the first phase of the project, 480 blankets were distributed to 475 learners and a few teachers. The next phase will see roll-out to schools in areas including Herold, Waboomskraal, Geelhoutboom and Pacaltsdorp.
"The presentations and demonstrations were well received by teachers and learners who enthusiastically participated in talks and were hugely impressed by the demonstrations. The people were overwhelmed by the initiative and thanked Oakhurst and the fire department for the initiative," said Sternsdorf.
Oakhurst Insurance managing executive Peter Grindlay said the company remains committed to the George Fire Department and applauded the fire blanket initiative. "A fire blanket is a simple item, but is highly effective in extinguishing fires and can save many lives, particularly in remote areas where fire departments may be smaller or further away."
Acting fire chief Neels Barnard thanked Oakhurst for their continued support. "We are especially grateful for the donation of fire blankets, which can be used to extinguish a small fire or to wrap around a person in case of a fire. These can literally be lifesaving gifts."
The George Municipality fire department will be following up the fire blanket project in Uniondale with the distribution and installation of 90 smoke detector alarms, donated by the Western Cape government in an ongoing programme to reduce deaths during fires in informal settlements.
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