Gateway: Living

Gig Harbor Academy students soak up fire prevention, safety lessons

Gig Harbor Academy first-graders absorb fire safety lessons by Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One Fire Prevention Specialists Nanette Tatom, instructing, and Tina Curran, seated back.
Gig Harbor Academy first-graders absorb fire safety lessons by Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One Fire Prevention Specialists Nanette Tatom, instructing, and Tina Curran, seated back. Special to the Gateway

Last month I joined Gig Harbor Fire & Medic One Prevention (GHFMO) Specialists Nanette Tatom and Tina Curran at the Gig Harbor Academy.

We were in LaVon Newby’s first grade class. The occasion? It was the last time Tatom will be delivering her wisdom at GHA. She is retiring from the service after more than two decades of imparting her wisdom, humor, and affection to kids throughout the peninsulas. She’ll be missed. BUT she and GHFMO have picked a winner as her replacement, Curran, of whom, more later.

“We have loved having Nanette teach our fire safety classes,” Newby said. “She is amazing with the children, engaging them through stories and activities. We at GHA wish Nanette the best in life and are grateful she spent time with us.”

These first-graders very seriously gobbled up the fire safety lessons. When asked to describe what they would do with their newfound wisdom, many of their after-class comments were priceless. (Editor’s note: Parents requested that only their children’s first names be used.)

“Ask mom to install sprinkler system in the ceiling,” said Wilson. “Don’t put a candle in your room,” cautioned Isla. Keeler ordered, “Don’t leave matches in kids’ rooms.”

Derek will “remind mom to turn off the fireplace when she leaves the house.”

A Gig Harbor native from birth, Curran grew up in the schools and organizations GHFMO programs serve.

“I cut my teeth in the world of teaching at the middle school level,” Curran said.

She taught health and LA/SS at Harbor Ridge Middle School and eventually landed at Cedar Heights Junior High in Port Orchard, where she taught Title 1/LAP, Health and P.E. Curran worked full time for a number of years until she and her husband, Andrew, started a family in 2000. She was able to stay home with their children during their formative years and in time was able to get back to teaching part time for the Peninsula School District as a substitute teacher, an opportunity which allowed her to be back in the classroom and see so many different schools and kids.

One of whom, Curtiss, declared, “Be careful with the Fire Triangle: oxygen, heat, fuel. Feel the door in fire and check if it’s hot or cold.”

Classmate Ellie warned, “Turn off all the fans.” And Isaac promised to “make sure my room is clean, especially near my heater.”

“As a wife of a GHFMO lieutenant,” said Curran, “I’ve developed strong familiarization of the department by proxy. On learning Nanette was retiring, I saw her position as being an opportunity to do what I love but with a twist: being able to be in classrooms, serving my community, expanding my skills by working with new organizations and working within GHFMO. I can’t wait to get to work carrying on the great legacy of customer service that Nanette has spent the last 21 years developing.”

It’s clear GHFMO is making points. First-grader Aarit wants to “make sure everything that can cause a fire is away from kids.” Joseph plans to “have more fire extinguishers in my home.”

As a top priority, Henry declared: “I’m going to make an escape plan for my home.”

You should, too!

Hugh McMillan is a longtime contributing writer for the Gateway. He can be reached at hughmcm26@gmail.com.

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