PERU — The Dixfield Fire Department on Wednesday gave dozens of sixth grade students from T.W. Kelly Middle School a taste of what it’s like to be trapped in a burning building. The fire safety and prevention demonstration was held at the old Peru Elementary School building.

Capt. Jason Hyde, with the help of firefighter Bob Halacy and Peru junior firefighter Nick Milligan, led three students at a time through the second floor of the building, which was filled with plumes of fake smoke spit out through a smoke machine.

Prior to the demonstration, Hyde spoke with the students about general fire safety, including leaving behind any belongings if a fire were to start in their house.

“Your parents can get new toys at Walmart,” Hyde said. “They can’t buy a new ‘you.’ It’s very important that if a fire were to start, you guys just get out of there.”

In an effort to show them the importance of moving quickly and not turning back, Hyde and Milligan led three students at a time to the second floor, where the students got down on their hands and knees, stuck to the right side of the wall and crawled quickly into the smoke.

As the students returned from the second floor back to where they started, Hyde told them a real fire would be “a whole different ball game.”


“I heard some of you up there saying, ‘This smoke tastes gross,’” Hyde said. “Trust me, real smoke will taste much worse. I could’ve gotten a smoke machine with smoke that smelled like cotton candy or chocolate, but I went with the smoke that tastes like swamp water instead. It gives you better insight into what a real fire would be like.”

Hyde also suggested that if they want to open a window in their house to yell to a firefighter while their house is on fire, make sure the door is closed first.

“The more oxygen that you let in, the more it’s going to feed the fire,” he said.

Substitute teacher Debbie Saphier said she believes the demonstration will stick with the students and help them if they were trapped in a fire.

“I’ve heard some of the kids saying that they’ve only had experience with fire drills,” she said. “They’ve never done anything like this. Maybe something from this demonstration will click in their heads if they’re ever caught in a fire.”

The Dixfield Fire Department will visit Dirigo Elementary School in Peru on Thursday and Friday to continue their fire and safety presentations.

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