NYC Fire Museum gives students hands-on fire safety tools

SOHO, Manhattan (WABC) -- Children have been using some brand new learning tools at the New York City Fire Museum this Fire Prevention Week. Among them is a newly designed 'apartment,' which is used to teach them how to escape from a fire.

They can barely see, but with pretend smoke billowing out of a mock stove, Eyewitness News watched 2nd graders from P.S. 17 in Brooklyn stay low, stay quiet, and follow instructions from firefighters, giving them a hands-on experience.

As Lt. Chris Geraghty called for 'radio silence,' they crawled in the darkness, along a wall, as smoke filled the tiny room.

"Everybody stick together. You follow feet in front of you," Lt. Geraghty told them.

"My mind was like, couldn't breathe, and it looked like real smoke to me," said Carmelo Vazquez, 7.

They also learned that they shouldn't go back into the room to rescue their teacher. Instead, they left that to a firefighter.

Other changes at the museum include new, interactive screens. Students can learn about fire hazards in their homes, but they can also draw out a floor plan, and map out a specific escape route.

Many of the students live in big apartment buildings, and know the risk all too well. When asked about risk, one student said, "One neighbor of mine...he almost set the building on fire."

"You don't take it seriously, until you see it up front," said Tami Whitehurst, a grandmother of one student on the trip.

"When they experienced it for the first time, in our room, it prepares them for the reality," the museum's Executive Director, Gary Urbanowicz, told Eyewitness News.

The New York City Fire Museum, open since 1987, also provides students with a historical perspective on firefighting tools, and how they've evolved over the years. There is also a room dedicated to teaching children about September 11th. The museum is located on Spring Street in SoHo.

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