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Local Girl Proves Effectiveness of Fire Safety Pro

On the afternoon of Thursday September 3rd the Russell Fire Department was dispatched to Gold Crescent for what appeared to be a routine call for a fire alarm, the call itself was in fact quite routine, however the story wasn’t. Once the trucks and firefighters arrived on scene it was explained that a child had placed a hot dog bun in the microwave oven for an inordinate amount of time and it had caught on fire. The result of the burning hot dog bun was a house filled with smoke. Fortunately nothing and no one was harmed, except a deeply charred and somewhat smelly microwave oven that lay in the driveway. Once it was determined that there were no further hazards Captain Duane Bourguignon noticed an upset 7 year old girl named Quinn Hazelton crying as she stood outside her home. Captain Bourguignon asked the young girl why she was so upset, it turned out that it was Quinn who had put the hot dog bun in the microwave, however she was most upset because her beloved dog Toby, a chocolate lab was still in the house along with her cat Boo. Captain Bourguignon knowing the house was now safe took Quinn into the home to retrieve her pets, while doing so he asked her why she left the house without them. Quinn responded that she knew that during a fire people come first, and that you are not to try to bring out pets or anything else. Captain Bourguignon praised Quinn for this decision and explained that unfortunately people do make mistakes, like her decision to put a hot dog bun in the microwave but that he was very proud of her actions on making a fast escape and not delaying by attempting to save her pets. Once outside, Captain Bourguignon told the crew of firefighters about how Quinn reacted and she was given a round of applause by the entire crew.


As the Public Education Officer this is what I can best describe as a “good news - bad news” story. Any call within the village is bad news, it usually means someone is in distress or there is possibly property loss. Fortunately that wasn’t the result in this call, however hearing how a young 7 year old girl reacted when put in a stressful situation was good news. Later that evening I met with Quinn and her parents Lee & John Hazelton, as I wanted to know what prompted Quinn to react like she did, especially in light of what took place in neighbouring Fournier only a week before. The eerie similarity of a young child and a pet was still fresh in my mind as I was speaking with her. I asked Quinn quite directly why did she leave the house without her dog? She told me that last year in school, the firefighters told her that this is what she should do in the event of a fire and that people come first. She then told me that she did know about what happened in Fournier and that a 3 year old boy died in a fire trying to save his dog but that wasn’t why she acted the way she did. I then asked her if she thought about going back to get her dog? She did admit to thinking about it, but knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I then asked her to describe what happened. She told me that she noticed smoke coming from the microwave, upon doing so she immediately ran to tell her mother in the other room that there was smoke everywhere and that they had to get out of the home. She then admitted that she was wrong to have put the bun in the microwave and promised that this would never happen again, she knew that she should never touch the stove but now the microwave will be given the same respect. I told Quinn that I was very proud of how she reacted in the situation, and that other people in the fire department were also proud of what she did. We discussed some other fire safety matters and she informed me that she did all the tasks on the Fire Safety Checklist, which is a program funded by The Lions Club that we run in the schools each spring, but that she didn’t win the bike. Her parents confirmed this and told me how they worked together to form an escape plan, Quinn even brought me the diagram that they put together, which her mother Lee graciously photocopied for me. Her father John told me that she had them check all the smoke alarms and she even showed me where they keep their fire extinguisher. Upon leaving, John and Lee Hazelton thanked me for coming to visit with them, I in turn thanked Quinn for making my day so rewarding.


When running education programs on fire safety we don’t always see the results of our work, we can only hope that people absorb the information we give them and possibly put it to good use. Our ultimate goal is for families to train themselves for emergency situations, so when they are faced with an emergency they don’t have to think what to do, they simply react as they are trained. That is what Quinn did, she knew what to do and performed without flaw, and she is only 7 years old. So to every firefighter who has spent a day in a school during fire prevention week, to every teacher who has helped promote fire safety, to all the companies and service clubs that have given money or goods to help promote fire safety – You have made a difference, at least in this one case. And sometimes that’s how we have to look at this task, one case at a time.


David Scott

Public Education Officer

Russell Fire Department


Published in the Russell Villager - September 9, 2009

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