MARINE CORPS AIR STATION FUTENMA, OKINAWA, Japan – A fire engine approached a burning metal hull, while a group of excited children watch in amazement from a safe distance. The water cannon fixed atop the truck unleashed a stream of water to extinguish the flames, and a cheer arose from the spectators.
Girl Scouts visited with Marines assigned to the aircraft rescue and firefighting unit for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma April 7 to learn about fire safety.
“It’s important to get the message out about fire safety,” said Sgt. Shane C. Phelps, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with ARFF, Headquarters and Headquarters Squadron, MCAS Futenma, Marine Corps Installations Pacific. “We have done these kinds of tours with local schools, but this is our first time with the Girl Scouts. The more people who know, the fewer emergencies there will be.”
The Marines showed visiting Girl Scouts the equipment they use when responding to an emergency, such as the P-19A fire truck, proximity rescue suits they wear, and hydraulic tools that cut metal to assist in rescues.
The children also learned how to escape from a smoke-filled room in the event they are inside a burning building.
“Ninety percent of fire safety is prevention,” said Pfc. Joseph L. Mackenzie, an aircraft rescue and firefighting specialist with the unit. “It’s important they know how to prevent fires, but we still need to teach them what to do in case of a fire. If they are familiar with that, they will be able to react.”
For the girls, it was a chance to learn something new and important, according to Jilleighan Boivin, a student at Lester Middle School.
“I really enjoyed coming here,” said Boivin. “I liked learning about all this and I had a lot of fun with (the Marines).”
The Marines always look forward to teaching children about their jobs and safety, according to Phelps.
“There’s nothing like working with kids,” said Phelps. “When you see their eyes light up, you can tell they’re having fun and learning at the same time. We’re always looking for ways to reach out and interact with our community.”
When the girls left the station, they were smiling and cheering after a fun day of learning, according to Boivin.
“I hope to come back again,” said Boivin. “(The Marines) were a lot of fun, and I learned a lot.”