FORT POLK— From their perspective, any day kids get to go on a field trip is probably a fun day. Two K-4 (kindergarten) classes of excited 4 and 5 year-olds from Faith Training Christian Academy, Leesville, had one of those “fun” days as they toured the Fort Polk Fire Department April 10.

The students explored fire trucks, toured the fire station and took turns spraying the fire hose (with a little help).

Sara Newman, K-4 teacher, said the field trip offered students the chance to experience and learn new things about firefighters and the job they do, while also absorbing basic fire prevention skills. Newman said it made an impression on her students when Fort Polk firefighters explained the parts of their uniforms and described and demonstrated the importance of each piece of equipment.

“What the firefighters sound like when they have their gear on is the first step to help kids understand what to expect if they are in a fire and see a firefighter in their home,” she said.

Krista Henry, K-4 teacher, said if you are 4 or 5 and your house is on fire, you are going to be scared.

“There’s smoke and alarms and then you see this big guy in strange gear coming at you. Of course they are going to be frightened,” she said. “But now they know what to expect and that the firefighter is there to help them. That could make a huge difference.”

Matthew Chapman, Fort Polk firefighter, told the kids, “The worst thing you can do is hide from us in that situation. You want to get out of the house that is on fire and we are there to help you do that.”

Rusty Buentello, Fort Polk fire inspector, said tours teach kids basic fire safety and that fire fighters are there to help them.

“If they are in trouble, we want them to run to us when they see our trucks and uniforms, not away from us,” he said.

Buentello said his favorite thing about conducting the tours is watching the happy expressions on kid’s faces as they explore fire trucks.

“It’s wonderful to see,” he said.

Courtney Whitehead attended the tour with her daughter, Abbie-Mae. Although she said Abbie-Mae knows what to do if a fire happens, she is glad her daughter has an opportunity to learn even more fire safety.

“She has been very excited about this tour,” she said.

Whitehead said her daughter loves water and couldn’t wait to spray the fire hose.

Abbie-Mae said it was really fun.

“I loved spraying the hose up and down. I sprayed water really high,” she said.

Capt. Chris Rosado, Joint Readiness Training Center Operations Group, attended the tour with his son Weston. He said it’s good to spend this kind of one-on-one time with him.

“He had a ball. He’ll be talking about this tour for the next two weeks,” he said.

After taking the tour, Lincoln Dowden, an FTCA student, said being a firefighter would be a good job.

The field trip was also part of the FTCA’s effort to promote the idea of teaching kids about community service.

Newman said kids gave teddy bears to the firefighters to hand out to other kids when they go out on emergency calls.

“We are trying to teach them a spirit of kindness and compassion in giving back to the community. We explained to them that when kids their age have been through an accident or a fire and have maybe lost everything they own, the teddy bear might bring them some comfort,” she said.

Henry said it makes their students feel better to pass that love and joy forward.

Newman said felt the tour was a huge success.

“I want to thank Fort Polk and the firefighters for allowing us to visit post for the tour,” she said.

“Fort Polk was very welcoming,” said Henry.