VIDEO: Young Mansfield heroes helped fight brush fire

Young Mansfield heroes helped fight brush fire

28 May 2009

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Cal Oberlander, a student at Jordan/Jackson Elementary School, said when he and six of his friends saw smoke near Wilson Place, they figured it was a camp fire, but after investigating, they realized it was “huge fire.”

The kids alerted an adult, called 9-1-1, directed firefighters to the fire and even helped unload the fire hose from the truck.

And on May 27, the seven young heroes were honored with awards ceremonies held at Jordan/Jackson and Qualters Middle School.

The fire department visited the Mansfield schools to thank Jordan/Jackson students Cal Oberlander, Ben Sibilia and Chris McSweeney, as well as Qualters middle schoolers Henry Oberlander, Paul Renzi, Kevin MacKinnon and Marty Reynolds.

The young hero assemblies are a tradition in the Mansfield schools, where students in all grades go through the Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) program, which was started 17 years ago.

“We like to think that the children — the students — are very well prepared when they are faced with an emergency of any kind,” Jordan/Jackson principal Teresa Murphy said.

“You guys are our eyes and ears out on the street,” said Firefighter Kevin Fontes at the Jordan/Jackson ceremony. “We can’t drive around in our fire trucks … looking for a fire or looking for someone who needs us.”

The students recognized an emergency, alerted an adult and called 9-1-1, Fontes told a room full of students, parents, teachers and fire officials. The older members of the group made sure the younger kids were safe and directed firefighters to the emergency when they arrived.

Due to simultaneous emergencies, the firefighters arriving on scene at the brush fire where short-staffed and the kids helped them unload the fire hose off of the truck, Fontes said.

Cal Oberlander, Ben Sibilia and Chris McSweeney said they were a little scared when they saw the fire, but immediately knew what to do thanks to the fire safety lessons they have learned at school.

 They’re still getting used to being local heroes, which is a “little weird,” Oberlander said. 

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