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'Pretty neat': Billings Fire Department 'Safety Squad' program returns to Billings schools

A firefighter educating Arrowhead students
Posted at 3:56 PM, Apr 26, 2024

BILLINGS — On Friday, the Billings Fire Department paid a special visit to Arrowhead Elementary School, making it the first stop in their revitalization of the Safety Squad program.

It’s a program that had been in Billings schools for decades, but about 10 years ago, went away due to budget cuts. Now it's back.

Listening to the presentation
Listening to the presentation

"We've all collaborated with School District 2 and everybody in my office has been working on this together for about a year and a half. So it's awesome that we're finally getting started," said Becky Biggins, a deputy fire marshal with the Billings Fire Department, on Friday. "We haven't been able to do this for a lot of years. So it's pretty neat to see it all coming together."

The fire safety training starts in the classroom, then typically ends outside for the real fun on non-rainy days.

Learning how to escape a house fire
Learning how to escape a house fire

"We've been working really closely with (SD2) to get it built into the curriculum. So all of our awesome librarians at the school district are delivering up to two weeks of classes before our visit so that the kids have a baseline knowledge," Biggins said. "So that collaboration has been really wonderful."

This April and May, BFD is piloting the program in eight School District 2 schools, starting with Arrowhead. Next year, they’ll visit all 21 schools in the district.

"I laid awake every night for a year in first grade, nervous that I was going to have a house fire," Biggins recalled.

Becky Biggins
Becky Biggins

Biggins remembers firefighters visiting her school when she was a child.

"The firefighters came in and talked to us about what the plan was for us, for the city, how it would all go down. It helped bring me a ton of peace and helped ease those fears," Biggins said. "It's a topic that's important to me."

A firefighter standing next to cones
A firefighter standing next to cones

She had been fighting fires for four years, but two years ago, she decided to make the switch to fire prevention to do community outreach like this.

"I remember back to that time being the first time that I was interested in a fire career, having the firefighters come in and talk to us," Biggins said. "It was formative for me growing up, and I hope that it was the same thing for some of our kiddos here."

A firefighter educating Arrowhead students
A firefighter educating Arrowhead students

Biggins hopes to inspire the next generation through the program—or at least leave them with crucial fire knowledge.

To learn more about the program, click here.