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Estevan Shriners visit area schools for Fire Prevention Week

Resplendent in their signature red fezzes, members of the Shriners took some time recently to visit some area schools, including Carlyle Elementary School, to share with the children the lessons of fire safety.
Wearing the signature fez hat of the Shriners club, Estevan Shriners member Lawrence Durand holds up one of the burn and fire prevention packages the Shriners distributed to local schools are part of a series of presentations that coincided with fire prevention week.

Resplendent in their signature red fezzes, members of the Shriners took some time recently to visit some area schools, including Carlyle Elementary School, to share with the children the lessons of fire safety.

The Shriners are members of a fraternal organization that is made up of members of the Mason group who have made the level of Master Mason within the Masonic Order.

The Shriners have dedicated their philanthropic efforts to support fee-free hospitals for children across the United States.

Specializing in burn treatments, the Shriners hospitals are arguably the leading centres for burn treatment and research.

But as Shriner representative Ken Eskdale said, it is likely much better to avoid burns than it is to treat them.

"This is a project the Shriners have developed some years ago to increase awareness in young people about the risks involved with fires, as well as steps they can take to avoid those risks," Eskdale said. "We hope to teach children to be respectful of fire and things that can burn them, and share some safety tips about how to set up a fire-escape plan at home."

Joining the Shriners at CES were members of the Carlyle and District Fire Department.

"We like to invite the local fire departments along to take part in the presentations," Eskdale said. "It isn't just about having their help in the presentations, but to help the kids to what a fireman looks like when they are all dressed up in their fire suits."

"Even as an adult, when the firefighters get all dressed up they can be pretty intimidating," Eskdale said. "We want kids to know that the firemen are there to help them in an emergency, and not to run or hide from them if the fire department ever has to respond to their home."

The message of fire prevention and safety the Shriners delivered came thanks to the commitment the Shriners have to burn prevention.

"We actually contact the schools and ask if they would allow us to come and visit their school," Eskdale said. "We provide all the funds and materials, and all we need is the permission from the principal, and we're happy to come."

The Wawa Shrine 'Stop Burn Injuries Program' seeks to provide the burn awareness education to rural communities all across Saskatchewan.

Funded in part through the Wawa Shrine, as well as Shriners International, the program features the local fire department's presentation, an interactive presentation by Shrine club members, and an information and activity package which includes colouring books that carry burn and fire awareness messages, as well as crayons, stickers, and a number of other fun things for kids.

"We are really happy to take part in an event like this," said Carlyle fire chief Trent Lee. "Because we are an all-volunteer body, we don't always have the time to take part in educational programming like this."

"With fire prevention week, I think it was great for the Shriners to put something like this on," Lee said. "I'm really happy we could bring some members in to take part in the program as well."

The firefighters, whose presentation included getting suited up with the total firefighting gear including respirators, the demonstrated to the young students how it is that firepersons move about in houses that are on fire, as well as how to let the firefighters know were a person is if they were caught in a fire.

"The entire program is meant to increase the student's awareness of fire and burn prevention," Eskdale said. "We like to come out to schools every few years, but we would come out annually if we were invited to do so."

The Shriners distributed more than 500 fire prevention packages at schools throughout the region, which included the schools in Redvers, Stoughton, Arcola, Carlyle and Midale.

The program provides education to students between the grades of Kindergarten right up to students in grade five.

The closest Shriners club is located out of Estevan, which takes part in identifying communities and schools for the program to contact.