Fritsch students have fun learning about fire safety |

Fritsch students have fun learning about fire safety

Dave Frank
Appeal Staff Writer
Cathleen Allison/Nevada Appeal

Ethan Lepire squirms as firefighters pull gurney straps tight over his chest.

He kicks his legs, sighs and looks around the playground for his friends.

“I can’t get out,” the boy says.

Wayne Cirone, one of the firefighters, looks down at him.

“Well,” he says, “that’s the point.”

A few seconds later, Cirone and a partner from the Washoe County Sierra Fire Protection District unstrapped the boy and motioned to another Fritsch Elementary School second grader who crawled onto the gurney and smiled.

“You can tell your mom when your sister’s being mean to get her one of these to tie her up,” Linda Curtis, a teacher’s aid, told one of the other students.

On Thursday, the school hosted the fire department for a fire safety day. Students in first and second grade got to see an emergency helicopter, Smokey Bear, a simulated house fire as well as the inside of an ambulance parked beside the playground.

Mark Lathrop, Cirone’s partner, told the students emergency workers need a gurney when they’re working because, “sometimes, you don’t feel like walking all the way out to an ambulance.”

Inside the vehicle, Cirone talked with the students about medicine, injections and heart monitors. He let students put on a finger device that showed their pulse and he pointed to the wave on a screen that recorded their heart beats.

He also showed them how he could listen to their hearts with a stethoscope.

“Can you hear your brain?” a student yelled.

In one of the classrooms, firefighters put neck braces on students and strapped them to backboards.

The first student who was strapped in stood up from the backboard wide-eyed and smiling.

“It’s a miracle,” Shauna Olson with the Nevada Division of Forestry, said in a Dr. Frankenstein voice, “you’re alive!”

The fire safety program was started six years ago by Mark Regan, a Sierra Fire Protection firefighter, when his daughter was in kindergarten at Fritsch.

He said the program gets students “fired up” about safety and makes them more comfortable with emergency workers.

Ethan, 7, who was wearing a sweatshirt with skulls on it, said he liked most of the program except for meeting Smokey Bear, who had bumped into him.

He added that he got even with Smokey, though, by stepping on his foot.

• Contact reporter Dave Frank at or 881-1212.