In 1988, 40 children under the age of 10 died in residential fires in Chicago. This number was closely reflected in 1989 when we experienced 39 residential fire deaths in children under the age of 13. The Public Education Section of the Chicago Fire Department's Fire Prevention Bureau has collaborated with the Chicago Public Schools, Archdiocese of Chicago, and hundreds of pre-schools to provide a Fire/Burn prevention type of program at the pre-kindergarten through 8th grade levels. Classroom programs and school visits are scheduled throughout the entire year with special emphasis given during Fire Prevention Week. Additional programs and services are available through community groups, fraternal organization, churches, and other agencies.
It is generally agreed that these efforts are excellent but do not meet the needs of the community and that additional educational programs are required. With the exception of the National Fire Protection Association's "Learn Not To Burn" program, none of the programs contain a comprehensive educational component that provide complete fire prevention and safety training. The Survive Alive House would meet this need.
With over 500 public and private elementary schools in the City of Chicago, it is not possible for one Survive Alive House to provide a program to every student in every grade level. It is important, however, to introduce a comprehensive fire prevention and safety educational program at an early age and to reinforce the learning experience at a later age. To accomplish this, the target population is second through fourth grade students. Each grade will have an age appropriate curriculum designed for their level. It is possible for 105 students to visit the Survive Alive House each day(21,000 projected each school year). During summer, an additional 3,000 children (projected) have the opportunity to visit the Survive Alive House during the summer through summer school and day camps.
The Survive Alive experience is unique in that it includes not only classroom instruction, but hands-on experiential involvement by the children. They are taught concepts, procedures, rules, and provided necessary fire safety information in the classroom. This is then reinforced through a total, realistic, and practical experience in the Survive Alive House. These experiences are generally very effective in teaching children, especially relating to areas requiring thinking and action in emergencies.