NORTH FORK – “If we can’t find you, we can’t help you,” has long been the motto of those working to ensure everyone has a green reflective house number sign on their driveway.
Students at North Fork School are now onboard with this mission, working with the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary (NFVFDA) to help first responders by selling the signs over the next few weeks.
For each sign sold during the fundraiser, $5 will go to the music and arts program at the school, and the top two sellers from each class will be treated to an ice cream sundae party. Local firefighters in uniform will serve up the ice cream, which is being donated by Rite Aid in Mariposa.
To kick off the contest, students got to spend an afternoon getting up close and personal with the vehicles and equipment used by first responders.
Firefighters from North Fork’s Station 11 brought a fire engine, a squad unit and a water tender to the campus, and Cal Fire Engine 4275 from the Rancheria Fire Station was also available for kids to check out.
Members of the California Highway Patrol, Sierra Ambulance, the Madera County Sheriff’s Office’s Citizens on Patrol, the Mountain Area Radio Club and the Volunteers in Prevention set up in stations on the basketball court. Each group of students spent about 10 minutes at each of the eight stations, getting an up-close look at the squad cars, engines, ambulance and radio equipment before moving on to the next display area.
Everyone then moved into Kennedy Hall where a demonstration of what to do in the event of a house fire was made very real by Station 11’s Lt. Rachel Rivera, Captain Diann Miller and Firefighter Tony Brown. After teaching the kids to stop, drop, cover their faces, stay low and leave the house, the lights were turned off and students were introduced to the sounds of a Darth Vader-type character, with the whooshing sound of air moving from a breathing tank into a mask.
Hearing the sounds made by a firefighter turned out in all their gear, including a breathing apparatus, let the kids know that this was not a scary monster, but someone coming to rescue them.
Students were also taught how important it is to have a household escape plan for any type of disaster, and a meeting place for the family to gather and be accounted for after leaving a burning house.
The kids will be working hard in the next two weeks to let their families and community know just how important it is to have their addresses clearly marked with reflective signs. Each sale also means funding for music and the arts program in the North Fork School.
“If the numbers show, we know where to go,” said Lt. Rivera, who, along with all the firefighters at Station 11, continues the mission of educating students about fire safety.
As always, their efforts are supported by the dedicated members of the North Fork Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary. They will be holding their spring fundraiser, the much-anticipated Tri-Tip BBQ, on Saturday, Apr. 25, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Kennedy Hall. The Auxiliary provides Station 11 firefighters with equipment and supplies not provided by Cal Fire or the County, and raised tens of thousands of dollars from a very generous community towards the building of the new fire station.
To order your reflective sign, and ensure that first responders can find you when you need them, please contact the North Fork School at 559-877-2215, or the NFVFDA at 559-877-7796. The student contest ends on Feb. 27. The signs are available from the NFVFDA, Station 12 in Oakhurst and Station 10 in Yosemite Lakes Park year-round.
(Photos by Carol Eggink – Thank You!!)