Dark smoke floated from an alleyway near Silver State Charter High School midmorning Tuesday as flames licking up gasoline from a metal pan turned from crimson orange to near fire-truck red.
Students stood watching nearby. Some joked with their friends in the PE class, others backed away from the smoke, but each took a turn fighting the fire with an extinguisher.
"I thought it would be a lot harder to put out than it was," said student Heather Hill, 15, whose full-length lavender dress kept her wary of the fire's flames but not frightened of them at all. "All you have to do is pull out the pin and point it at the fire."
Several extinguishers, ranging from small to large, were nearby.
"The real big ones are commercial," said Tom Tarulli, public-education instructor for the Carson City Fire Department. "That's what we use at the fire stations."
He encouraged each of the students, when they are older, to buy an extinguisher for their home, car and boat.
"When you get your first place or first apartment, get one of the smaller ones for your home," he said. "If you have a fire that's just started, the smaller one will put it out."
The class ABC fire extinguisher is the best one to purchase. The dry chemical extinguisher can be used for paper, plastic and cardboard fires, as well as gasoline and kerosene fires and electrical equipment fires.
"He explained to us how you work the extinguisher," Heather said. "You pull out the pin, and you point the hose toward the base of the fire, because if you point it toward the flame, it will flare up. If you point it at the base, you basically suffocate the fire, which makes it not able to breathe anymore."
When students are done with Tarulli's nine-week course, they will not only be first-aid and CPR-certified, they will also be the first group of high school students throughout the state to complete Student Emergency Response Training.
"I'm really excited being the first class in the state to do it," Heather said. "I've never had training like this before."
Some 75 students from the physical education class taught by Cindy Talia are taking the course. Students come to the distance-education charter school once a week for regular academic instruction. Those working on their PE credits come a second time.
"They're really taking to it and asking a lot of questions," Talia said. "It's a lot of hands-on learning. Hopefully they, won't ever have to use a fire extinguisher, but if they do, they'll know how."
Student Cody Whalin, 17, turned his back to a smothered fire as some of the powder from the extinguisher landed on him and classmates.
"We've talked about hazmat and talked about terrorism and what they use and stuff, and seeing stuff at airports and how to prevent it," he said. "I thought we would run out of stuff to do, but this is a lot better than other PE classes."
SERT training is available only for teenage students, and Community Emergency Response Training, or CERT, is available to adults. Anyone interested should call Tarulli at 887-2220, ext. 1018.
-- Contact reporter Maggie O'Neill at email@example.com or 881-1219.
Student Emergency Response Training teaches students light search-and-rescue, disaster psychology, fire safety, 911 communication and more
When they complete the course, students are able to use basic fire-suppression strategies, reduce potential fire hazards, prepare for a disaster and more
Community Emergency Response Training, or CERT, is the equivalent program taught for adults
CERT training was first promoted by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in 1994