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Fourth graders observe 9/11 at the Bluffton Fire Department

View a video of the visit HERE.

By Paula Scott

Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2001, when terrorist attacks in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania shook the nation? Do you remember where you were on September 11, 2023?

Fourth grade students from Bluffton Elementary school visited the village fire station to mark the day with service. They were studying in class about the tragic historic and then learned about being a first responder from Fire Chief Jon Kinn and EMS Chief Jan Basinger.

The weather on this September day was as beautiful as the day of September 11, 2001. The visit began with a big but fun task, washing a fire truck and EMS unit. The students clambered onto the trucks with soapy water and soft cloths. They even took turns with the hoses, rinsing the units.

After the students put away the cleaning materials, they sat down in the station to learn about 9/11 from the perspective of a first responder. Kinn pointed to a memorial display on the wall that included the names of all 343 firefighters who died in the line of duty. (On September 25 it was announced that an equal number of FDNY firefighters have since died of 9/11-related illnesses)

They then had a chance to ask all kinds of questions about the equipment around them and about Kinn’s experiences fighting fires. In the process, Kinn had the opportunity to review fire safety with a group that he noted were just the age when playing with fire is most likely.

The students learned that they had just washed a tanker truck, a vehicle that is used in places with no fire hydrants. It carries water and can pump water out of a pond. The old EMS unit next to them, it turned out, is used just to carry tools and provide firefighters a place to either cool off in or warm up in, depending on the weather.

Kinn reviewed the gear that he wears–which weighs 50 pounds–and how it protects every part of the body from fire and heat. He showed the children the air tanks that make it possible to go into a burning building. He noted that while the tanks are rated for 30 minutes, they actually only last about 15 minutes, due to how you breathe when your body’s adrenaline hits you.

Among the gear was an infrared camera. The fire chief showed the students how it reveals a person in the room even if they are hidden by smoke. He explained that was why it is important not to hide in a burning building. 

Other questions: where are all the firefighters? Kinn explained that the crew are all at work and aren’t at the station unless they are training or responding to a call. Where is the fire pole? There isn’t one at the Bluffton station. How many firefighters are there? There are currently 18 volunteer firefighters in Bluffton, including fourth grade teacher Caleb Garmon.

Other questions about fire safety can be answered by calling the fire station at (419) 358-4050 or by visiting