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Kids learn important fire safety lessons from local firefighters

Kids received first-hand lessons in fire safety on Thursday during the 27th annual Central Coast Fire Chief’s Burn Relay.

“Today we’re going to different schools on the Central Coast talking about burn safety and fire safety,” said Samantha Zepeda, Development Director, Alisa Ann Ruch Foundation. “This week is Fire Prevention Week nationally, so we’re making sure everyone knows the importance of fire safety.”

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The Burn Relay consisted of two legs within San Luis Obispo County. Firefighters on each leg spent about 30 minutes at each school before moving on to another one to deliver their presentation.

“It’s a great for us to spread awareness on what to do if you are caught in a fire situation,” said Five Cities Fire Authority firefighter Mike LoPresti. “Stop, drop and roll, don’t run, that’s only going to fuel the flames. (Have) smoke detectors, make sure you check the batteries, and change them when the clocks change, so every six months and know the difference between tools and toys.”

Held in conjunction with national Fire Prevention Week, the Burn Relay is put on by the Alisa Ann Ruch Foundation, a statewide non-profit now celebrating its 45th anniversary.

“We have five burn relays throughout the state of California,” Zepeda said. “It’s where the different fire departments partner together and come together for a common cause to support the Alisa Ann Ruch Foundation, and our mission is to enhance the lives of burn survivors and promote burn prevention education.”

The Central Coast Burn Relay raised approximately $13,000 from donations by various fire agencies and schools throughout San Luis Obispo County. Money raised will benefit the foundation’s “Champ Camp,” the nation’s largest and longest-running summer camp for burn injured children. Last year, the camp hosted 145 kids.

On Thursday, hundreds of students, such as those at Harloe Elementary School were able to speak personally with firefighters, providing them with another educational fire safety lesson.

“I think they can pretty much save your life if you are in an emergency in a fire,” said Harloe Elementary 5th grader Kahlea Cajas. “They can get you to away from the fire as quick as possible.”

“They can save your life,” said 3rd grader Lillian Miller. “They can help you and never run away from them if you are in a fire.”

While Thursday’s Burn Relay was a fun and festive event, with plenty of smiles to go around, students realized the significance and seriousness of the lessons delivered by the firefighters.

“You don’t want to die in a fire, you want to know what to do and when to do it,” said 4th grader Kaelyn Silva.

Thanks to the Burn Relay, students now have a better understand of what do to should a fire happen. It’s something most won’t have to deal with, but lessons learned today could potentially save their life if it does.

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