Kitchen fires a hot safety topic

South Waikato News - - NEWS - By FLORENCE KERR

For­mer Toko­roa ra­dio star turned fire ed­u­ca­tion of­fi­cer Harry Ponga had Strath­more School staff and stu­dents in fits of laugh­ter.

Mr Ponga, now liv­ing in Maketu, or­gan­ised a fire safety show for the chil­dren, in­clud­ing a burn­ing kitchen.

‘‘ They wrote me letters ask­ing me to come home for a visit,’’ Mr Ponga said.

‘‘The chil­dren came to camp in Maketu ear­lier this year so we took them out and they had a real good time.’’ The fire safety show fo­cused on the dangers of cook­ing and keep­ing an eye on your stove while pre­par­ing meals.

‘‘Keep look­ing while you are cook­ing. . . if your Maori and mak­ing a boil-up keep an eye on your kai,’’ Mr Ponga said.

The chil­dren en­joyed the kitchen burn­ing seg­ment of the show. They learned that if a fire started in a pot on the stove they could put a wooden chop­ping board, pot lid or a wet tea towel over the pot to dampen down the flames.

They were also told not to pour wa­ter on a pot of oil that has caught fire be­cause the flames erupt.

Stu­dents Len­nox Watene, Tyra Misa and Strath­more School prin­ci­pal Mur­ray Ken­drick had a com­pe­ti­tion to see who could dress in fire­fighter gear the fastest, all were helped by many hands dur­ing the process.

The main aim of the day was to pro­mote fire safety around the kitchen area.

There have been 21 fires in Toko­roa this year alone, with a ma­jor­ity in the kitchen. Toko­roa Home Fire Safety Ad­vi­sor Cappy Howard said just one in four homes in Toko­roa had smoke alarms.

‘‘This is not a good statis­tic,’’ Mr Howard said.

Mr Howard is part of the Te Ko­tahi­tanga Home Fire Safety Project, which in­stalls fire alarms in Toko­roa free of charge for those who have a com­mu­nity ser­vice card.

If you are in­ter­ested in re­ceiv­ing home fire safety ad­vice phone 0800 SAFE HOME.

FIRE WISE: Vol­un­teer sup­port of­fi­cer Grant Mitchel puts out a kitchen fire as Strath­more School stu­dents look on.

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