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June 19, 2013

Hamilton fifth-graders smoke competition to prevent fires

By Terry Oparka
C & G Staff Writer

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Hamilton fifth-grade teacher Kyle Rogers accepts a plaque at the school June 10 from Troy Fire Staff Technician Chuck Roberts on behalf of Rogers’ class, which turned in the most fire safety surveys in the Troy School District as part of the voluntary Fifth Grade Smoke Detector Project.

For the fifth year, the fifth-graders across the Troy School District fanned out to family, neighbors and friends to drive home fire safety as part of the Fifth Grade Smoke Detector Project.

The winning school receives bragging rights only and a plaque — no prizes or even grades for their efforts.

For the second year, Hamilton students turned in the most surveys — about 250. Districtwide, students turned in approximately 750 surveys.

Hamilton teacher Kyle Rogers’ class turned in the most surveys at that school. The exact count was not available. The Troy Fire Department will honor those teachers from each school across the district whose classes turned in the most surveys.

“We have a very competitive group of kids,” Rogers said of the fifth-graders at Hamilton. “It’s a great group of fifth-graders. A lot of pride and effort goes into everything they do.”

Rogers said his students were shocked at how many families surveyed didn’t have an escape plan in their homes.

“Half had a plan, and half had no idea,” he said of those who completed the surveys.

As part of the Troy Fire Department fire safety program in the schools, each fifth-grader in the Troy School District sees a one hour and 15 minute presentation on fire safety. Some of the fire information states that there are, on average, approximately 3,000 fire deaths in the U.S. each year, and 84 percent of those occur in residential-type properties. Programs like the Fifth Grade Smoke Detector Project have been proven to reduce fire fatalities in the U.S. and the U.K.

The survey asks six questions:

• Do you have a smoke detector? 
• Is it working?
• Do you change the batteries each year?
• Do you have an outside meeting place in case of a home fire?
• Do you have a fire escape plan?
• And if so, do you practice it?

Troy Fire Staff Technician Chuck Roberts visited Hamilton Elementary June 10 to present the plaque to the fifth-graders.

The completed surveys came from Oakland, as well as Macomb and Wayne counties. The one that travelled the farthest came from Shanghai.

Roberts explained that one family travelled there over the Easter break to visit their father, who was there working, and came back with a survey filled out in Mandarin.

Roberts said he keeps the focus of the Fifth Grade Smoke Detector Project on community service.

“Normally, community service projects involve individuals people don’t know, but these were their family, friends and neighbors,” Roberts said.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Terry Oparka at toparka@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1054.