A quick-thinking young girl saved her own life when her clothing caught fire.

Extensive power outages in the North-West, caused by the strong winds and stormy conditions recently, led Georgina Bonfield’s family to use candles. “I was playing with my sister,” Georgina, 8, recalled. “And I put my arm over a candle, to grab something, and my pyjamas caught alight. “I dropped straight down to the floor and put it out.”

The Miandetta Primary School pupil’s mother, Samantha Bonfield, was amazed at her daughter’s ability to stop, drop and roll, without hesitation. “I was standing right next to her and before I even realised she was on fire, she had put the fire out,” Mrs Bonfield said.

Georgina’s actions are a testament to Tasmania Fire Service’s (TFS) School Education Program. “When we get evidence like this from a family, it’s very gratifying,” TFS senior station officer in community education, Chris Tomes, said. “That situation could have been very traumatic. It’s what drives you to run this program and keeps the motivation of the people who deliver the program right up there.”

North-West district education officer, Craig Machen, attends 60 schools every couple of years. He visited Miandetta Primary in May. “My initial reaction was silence; I had to digest it, I get a bit emotional about those things,” Mr Machen said. “It really meant a lot to me, to know that the information I’m passing on is making a difference.” The fire safety program, which has been running for almost 20 years, uses different methods to engage primary school pupils.

“We use a hands-on approach and a very interactive program. It’s about being active and getting to stop, drop and roll in the classroom,” Mr Tomes said. “Students are also asked to develop a fire escape plan, and we get the students to bring that plan home and work on it with the family, which gets parents and siblings involved.”

Georgina’s mother was grateful for the program that saved her daughter’s life. “She ended up with a few little minor burns on her arm,” Mrs Bonfield said. “If she had panicked and flapped her arms around, it could have been a lot worse.”

The Advocate
Monday, August 11, 2014

Photos: Katrina Docking

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