HUDSON — Firefighters from the Hudson Volunteer Fire Department helped students at Peavy Primary School put a hands-on approach to fire safety during Fire Prevention Day.

“We have more than 800 kiddos just in Peavy alone,” chief Joe Burton said. “We have to teach them to be able to get out of their house in case there’s a fire.”

The event was started in the 1980s by Gowland “Goldie” Bass, who died in 2018 with 44 years of experience at the department.

“We need to carry on that legacy, not only for him but for the students,” Burton said. “If we’re able to save one kiddo, if we’re able to teach one kiddo how to get out of a house fire, then it’s all worth it.”

Bass’ four grandchildren attended Fire Prevention Day. Hunter and Tanner Holt began the sessions by introducing the kids to a firefighter in full gear.

“All of you know what a firefighter looks like, right?” Tanner Holt asked the students. “This is firefighter Reagan. He is nice. He likes to make jokes. Sometimes firefighters can look scary, and that’s because they have a lot of gear on to protect them from the fire.”

He had the firefighter slowly don his gear as the students watched. He explained what each piece of gear did, and he had the students listen to the firefighter’s breathing because he “sounds like Darth Vader.” Then the firefighter went around to each student, giving them a high five.

They also talked to the students about the importance of having and maintaining a smoke detector, reminding the students about replacing the batteries.

Outside, the students were able to tour the fire trucks and learn about the gear that firefighters use in each truck. Tanner Holt introduced the students to the truck they call Big Foot for its large tires.

“Big Foot like the movie?” 6-year-old Kevin Tapia asked.

He explained that the Big Foot truck is used to tackle forest fires. It comes stocked with chainsaws, rakes, shovels and more.

“I’ve never went in a fire truck. I only went in a police car,” Kevin said as they lined up to tour the trucks.

The students also got to put into practice what they learned through an obstacle course.

“You’re lying in bed, nice and cozy, and all of a sudden you hear the smoke detector,” Hunter Holt said. “You’re going to crawl low beneath the smoke, and you’re going to check your door to see if there is a fire on the other side. If it’s hot, there is a fire outside, so you shouldn’t go out there. Then you’re going to make your way to the window.”

Seven-year-old Matthew Cox zoomed through the obstacle course.

“It’s amazing,” Matthew said. “You get down and go really fast and jump out the window! I went super fast.”

“It was actually pretty scary, and I forgot how to do it a little bit, but I guess it was great,” 6-year-old Lily Barfield said. “I just think their suits were a little bit scary.”

First-grade teacher Maribel Castillo said it was important for the students to be exposed to fire safety and it gives them the skills that they need.

“If they’re not taught what they need to do, then when the need arises, they don’t know what to do,” Castillo said. “I think it’s a really good way to build awareness.”

Going through the obstacle course and the stop, drop, roll exercises, high-fiving the firefighters and getting to tour the trucks helps solidify this lesson in the students, she said.

“In the primary campus, they are very tactile and require a lot of movement,” Castillo said. “They require a lot of movement. That’s how they learn — by interacting with their environment. It also helps them put a face to the firefighter.”

The goal of Fire Prevention Day is to teach kids what to do to be safe when they encounter a fire, school counselor Callie Brown said.

“Seeing the firefighters helps create a relationship between them,” Brown said. “We have police officers on staff here, so our kids are real familiar with seeing police officers. We want them to know that all first responders are there to help them.”

Grace Juarez’s email address is grace.juarez@lufkindailynews.com.