Each October since 1993, the Historical Society of Palm Desert has coordinated a Mini-Muster fire safety program for the Desert Sands Unified School District.
The Riverside County Fire Station No. 33 directs the field operations with the assistance of Station No. 55 and volunteers from are fire houses. Firefighters direct and guide the students through mini-muster activities that teach both fire prevention and self-protection with basic fire science a part of the instruction. Following last year’s mini-muster program, more than 13,000 students had experienced this fire safety program.
Firefighters provide and operate hands-on, team-type, field activities for third-grade students of James Carter, Gerald Ford, Abraham Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, and George Washington Charter elementary schools. Children participate on the field in the morning during the mini-muster with an awards assembly in the afternoon complete with visits from Smokey Bear or Sparky the Fire Dog. Each student receives a certificate of completion at the conclusion of the day.
Up to 12 outdoor areas are staged to mimic the actual training given to professional firefighters. The action, scaled to child size and ability, includes escape from a smoke-filled room, a hose drag, bucket brigade, finding a way through a dark house, and other team exercises that create the sense of emergency that would occur were the situation real. Between team events other activates include safety briefings and question and answer periods.
There are displays, staffed by personnel, of paramedic equipment and hazardous materials accident response vehicles. Fire truck displays include modern and historic local fire engines. Cold drinks are served all day.
Students also participate in an art project. Samples from former years are displayed at the field on the day of the mini-muster. Two pictures are selected from each participating class at each school. They are judged on artistic effort and accuracy in depicting a real-life emergency.
One picture is then presented to City Council and the artist, parents, and teachers are invited to attend the council meeting where they receive a certificate of merit. The winning artwork is framed and hung in the firehouse closest to each school. Each school’s winner is invited to ride on the Historical Society’s antique fire engine in the Palm Desert Golf Cart Parade. This year’s parade will be held on Sunday, Oct. 28.
This year’s mini-musters are scheduled for :
- October 2, Abraham Lincoln Elementary School
- October 4, George Washington Charter Elementary School
- October 9, Gerald Ford Elementary School
- October 11, Ronald Reagan Elementary School
- October 16, James Carter Elementary School