Dartmouth firefighter wins Safety Educator of the Year award
Dartmouth firefighter Anthony Poente knows how to get kids involved in safety.
Last week Poente — who teaches fire safety all over Dartmouth as well as New Bedford — received the 2019 Fire and Life Safety Educator of the Year award from the state’s Department of Fire Services.
Poente has been a safety educator for 20 years, teaching children as part of the department’s Student Awareness of Fire Education (SAFE) program.
“I like that we get to help students and people in our community be conscientious of fire safety,” he said, before launching into a presentation for third graders at DeMello School on Monday afternoon.
During the presentation, students played games like “Tool or Toy?” and practiced crawling across the stage to keep below air that would be filled with smoke during a fire.
They also learned that the size of a fire can double in just one minute, and laughed as one of their teachers put on firefighting gear.
“All of our big fires come from small fires,” said Poente. “So if we can prevent these small fires, we won’t have big fires. And that’s the point that we try to get across to the kids.”
The program teaches students from preschool through fifth grade about fire and safety in general, like wearing seatbelts and staying off ice in winter, and calling 911 — which actually helped one of Poente’s students save a life earlier this year.
Ten-year-old Kazin Crisman from Potter School was about to get a pizza with his grandfather on January 5 when the elderly man suffered a medical emergency.
Crisman called 911 and calmly explained the emergency to the dispatcher.
First responders were able to get Crisman’s grandfather to the hospital quickly, where he recovered, and Crisman was recognized with a Young Hero award from the SAFE program.
And on September 25 Poente was recognized for having taught Crisman and other students what to do in a crisis.
“Firefighter Poente was recognized for teaching Kazin how to react in a scary medical emergency and saving his grandfather’s life,” the Massachusetts Department of Fire Services stated in a press release on the Safety Educator of the Year award.
The statement continued, “Anthony’s work with people of all ages has made, and will continue to make, communities on the south coast safer from fire and other perils.”
“I just enjoy the interactions with the students,” Poente said with a smile, waving as the third graders filed out and second graders started filing in.
“But my favorite part is seeing the results and the numbers that show that what we’re doing works,” he added. “Fire deaths are down, fire injuries are down since the inception of the SAFE program.”
And for one family, at least, the program has already made all the difference.