Students promote fire safety in Macon speech competition

Elementary school students from Bibb County extemporaneously espoused elements of fire safety Saturday morning at Central Georgia Technical College.

The 20 contestants in the Macon-Bibb County Fire Department’s second annual Fire Safety Speech Contest chose topics and memorized their presentations.

Some gave advice on developing escape plans or explained fire extinguishers.

Others extolled the benefits and varieties of smoke detectors, or prepped the audience on how to stay safe during the winter and Christmas holidays.

The youngsters from the fourth, fifth and sixth grades were either junior fire marshals or have been taking fire safety education classes under Lt. Ellen Kicklighter.

“Girls and boys, you’re saving lives by learning fire safety,” Kicklighter told them at the start of the competition. “I want you to pass it on. Teach your brothers and sisters.”

Fire Prevention Chief Larry Smallwood told the children how a young Macon girl died in a fire about 5 feet away from the door.

If she had stayed low to the ground away from the smoke, she might have made it out alive, he said.

Each student had between three and four minutes to speak on his or her topic.

Avery Scott, a 10-year-old fifth-grader at Tattnall Square Academy, won first place in the competition as she maneuvered poster boards and demonstrated proper use of a fire extinguisher while delivering her speech.

Ann Timms, president of the Macon Downtown Lion’s Club, which sponsored the event, presented Avery a check for $500, along with her first place trophy.

St. Joseph’s Catholic School fifth-grader Celia Cotton cradled a baby doll in her arms as she stressed the importance of planning a safe evacuation and designating a meeting place to be sure everyone is out.

The 10-year-old won the $200 second place prize and trophy. Aniya Eskew, an 11-year-old fifth-grader from L.H. Williams, took third place and was awarded $100 and a trophy.

Kicklighter, who recently resigned her position with the department to accept a fire educator job in Gwinnett County, started the competition last year.

She thought the memorized speeches would be a good way to embed life-saving knowledge the children would be comfortable sharing with others.

“Maybe one day we’ll never have to hear of another child dying in a fire,” she said.