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Stop, Drop, and Roll! A Fire Safety Unit Study

  • Jodie Wolfe Home School Enrichment
  • 2009 2 Nov
Stop, Drop, and Roll! A Fire Safety Unit Study

October 9th marks the ninety-eighth celebration of Fire Prevention Day. This day was picked since it is the anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. In less than three days approximately 300 people were killed, 100,000 were without homes, and the city suffered $200 million worth of damages. This fire started people to think about fire prevention instead of only firefighting.

One of the requirements for home schooling where we live in Pennsylvania is that annually we cover the importance of fire safety. Our family had an up close experience with this a number of years ago. I had ribs simmering on the stove that spring morning. As my sons and I headed to meet my husband for lunch, I thought for sure that I had turned the stove off before leaving our home.

After eating I felt prompted by the Lord to return home, even though I had errands to run in a neighboring town. When I turned down our street I immediately began to smell smoke. As I pulled up to our house, I saw smoke pouring out of the rafters. My first thoughts were to get our pets safely out and if possible to turn off the stove burner. I sent our boys next door to the neighbor to have them call 911 while I attempted to rescue the animals. When I opened the front door, smoke poured out. After one step inside I realized that the smoke was too thick to see through.

My next thought was to go through the basement where I could come upstairs and have a straight shot to the kitchen. I did manage to get the burner turned off before the firefighters arrived. I called for the dog, but was unable to locate her. I chose to go outside because of the thickness of the smoke was getting to me. I realized later that it was not very wise of me to go into a smoke-filled house. I had forgotten some of the important lessons that I diligently taught my sons each school year.

Within minutes the fire trucks arrived and were able to safely get our dog and guinea pig out of our smoke filled home. The ribs that I had been cooking before I left had completely boiled away while I was gone. We learned later that due to the grease content from the meat, and the heat from the burner, it was within seconds of explosively igniting. The clean up from this experience took many months.

Fire safety became a bit more important in our education program. I was able to point out to my boys the things that we did right during the experience, as well as the things that we did wrong. This fall is a great time to teach your children the importance of knowing what to do in case of a fire. Make sure to remind them that if they are witness to a fire that they know how to contact help as well as to stay out of the way of the firefighters, so they can do their job.


Oxygen, fuel, extinguish, smoke detector, smoke, fire, firemen, bucket brigade, fire hydrant, escape plan, blaze and rescue.


     •   Design a fire safety poster.

     •   Draw a floor plan and escape route for your home.

     •   Research the different type of fire trucks (historically and today) and draw a poster and label each one.

     •   Bucket brigades were often used to fight fires in the early days. Find out more about this and then draw a picture of it.

     •   Draw a cartoon strip that demonstrates a fire safety rule or tip. 


     •   Research the Great Chicago Fire of 1871. Pretend you are a reporter and write about how the fire started. Why did things burn so quickly? Could it have been prevented? What would you have done if you were there?

     •   Benjamin Franklin was instrumental in setting up America's first fire insurance company in 1752. Pretend that you lived during that time period and develop an advertisement for this company.

     •   One of Ben Franklin's sayings was, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." He was referring to the importance of fire safety. Come up with your own saying about fire safety and record it.

     •   Write a report on how to leave a building that is on fire. What things do you check? Do you walk out? Should you put your hand on the doorknob to see if it is hot? If you catch on fire what do you do?


     •   In order for a fire to burn it needs to have three things present—oxygen, fuel and heat. Experiment by lighting a candle and placing a canning jar over top of it. What happens to the flame?

     •   Try this experiment outside. Fill a glass jar one-third with white vinegar. Make sure lid is dry. Poke hole in lid. Using tissue paper, place over rim and make small cup, filling it with two tablespoons of baking soda. Place lid on jar, without mixing. Light candle, mix vinegar and baking soda and point mixture at the flame. Watch your homemade fire extinguisher in action.

     •   Benjamin Franklin invented the lightning rod which was instrumental in preventing fires. Research why this works.

     •   Check your home to see if you have any fire safety hazards and see what you can do to eliminate them.

     •   Practice your escape route in case of a fire.

     •   There are four classes of fire: A - Fires with trash, wood, paper or other combustible materials as the fuel source;   B - Fires with flammable or combustible liquids as the fuel source; C - Fires involving electrical equipment and D - Fires with certain ignitable metals as a fuel source. Find out what kind of fire extinguisher is needed for each class.


     •   Fire hoses come in different sizes and lengths. If a fire hose that is 1-1/2 inches wide can pump 155 gallons of water each minute, how much water will be used putting out a fire that lasts 30 seconds?

     •   A fireman has a twenty foot ladder that is extended. He is three quarters of the way up the ladder when he realizes he forgot his hatchet. He goes all the way down and then up to the top of the building. How much distance has he covered?

Social Studies

     •   There have been many famous fires throughout history. Research what happened to the Hindenburg disaster and write a report.

     •   Research and find out how fires at sea are extinguished.

     •   The first women firefighters were Molly Williams, Judith Livers and Toni McIntosh. Pick one of these women and write a story about her experiences.

     •   Dalmatian dogs were first used with fire companies when fire trucks were pulled by horses. Find out what you can about these dogs and why this breed was picked to be a mascot.

     •   How are fires fought in space? Research the Apollo spacecraft fire.

     •   Smokey the Bear has been the icon for preventing forest fires since 1944. Draw a picture of him.

     •   The Great Fire of London started September 2, 1666. Find out where this fire started and what happened.

Field Trips

     •   Take a tour of your local fire department. October is a busy time due to fire safety week, so perhaps you want to pick a different month for this one. One thing that we often have tried to do on the off months is to make cards and bake cookies to let them know that we appreciate the service they provide. About 73% of firefighters in America are volunteers. Did you know that Ben Franklin started America's first Volunteer Fire Department in 1736? It was called the Union Fire Company.

     •   Research and see if you have any fire museums in your area that you can visit. 

Jodie Wolfe and her husband have been married for twenty years. They have been homeschooling their two sons for twelve years. Jodie likes reading, writing and leading ladies Bible studies. She also enjoys encouraging women through her blog, Digging For Pearls at


Originally published in Home School Enrichment Magazine. Now, get a FREE subscription to HSE Digital by visiting Every issue is packed with homeschool encouragement, help, and information. Get immediate access to the current issue when you start your FREE subscription today!


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