Pine Grove Elementary School second-graders stood politely in the school bus loop, listening to Hernando County fire inspector Danny Roberts while the curious-looking trailer loomed temptingly behind him.
Roberts, three Hernando County Fire Rescue volunteers and two Hernando County firefighters were at the school last week to instruct young students and remind older ones about fire safety. Fire Prevention Week was Oct. 5-11, but the department stretches that time to educate wherever they are needed.
The trailer was like a little house where the children could practice crawling through the simulated smoke through a kitchen, a living room and a bedroom. It included a heated door so the children can learn to feel for heat with the backs of their hands.
"We're trying to get them familiar with fire trucks and personnel and not be scared," Roberts said. "Some of the kids have been through it, so it's a refresher."
The smoke trailer was on loan to Hernando from the Allstate Foundation. It even had a simulated fireplace.
Down the road from the smoke trailer was a huge fire truck, where firefighters Scott Adams and Jeff Largo were on hand to point out its parts. Firefighters can look rather spaceman-like in their protective garb.
The idea on this day was to show Largo in the gear "so they'll recognize that there's a person under the gear and it's safe to go with him," Adams said.
After crawling through the trailer, some children gave their impressions of it. "I think it was real exciting," said Jennifer Clemons, 7. "It was smoky and fun and I couldn't even see." Jennifer said she learned, "Don't let children use fire."
Her classmate Taylor Blansfield, 7, remembered a basic lesson, saying, "I learned about never go back in your house if it's on fire."
Tayvon Brown, 7, said the warmed door impressed him. "It was like a little bit hot." He learned, "Don't touch nothing without asking your parents."
What William Watson, 7, picked up from the lesson was that "smoking could be dangerous."
After they had been reminded to stay low, look after little brothers and sisters and to never go back inside a burning building, the children headed to the fire truck.
They walked around the red vehicle and saw the lights, hoses, extension cords and medical gear. "We're an advanced life support truck," Adams said.
He showed the children the thermal imaging camera that can pick out fires or living things in dense smoke. The children saw the pump panel and the engineer's compartment.
There were fire extinguishers and a "Jaws of Life" for opening wrecked cars. The children saw Largo in full firefighting gear. Siann Williams, 7, said she thought he looked comfortable.
Savana Ware, 7, considered the fashion side of the dull-colored firefighting suit. "I think he would look better in red and yellow," she said.