Blazer to the rescue! The role of puppetry in enhancing fire prevention and preparedness for young children

Lidstone, John (2006) Blazer to the rescue! The role of puppetry in enhancing fire prevention and preparedness for young children. Australian Journal of Emergency Management, 21(2), pp. 17-28.


Public education has repeatedly been shown as a cost-effective means to reduce the cost and impact of hazardous events on human lives. There is considerable overseas literature on the educational value of puppet-mediated educational intervention in public safety programs. However, effective and useful formal evaluation of its use in the context of fire safety education was found to be very limited internationally and reports of Australian experience of these kinds of interventions are negligible. This paper reports on a 12 month research study, funded by Emergency Management Australia, through its 2002 Grant in Aid scheme (Project 12/2002). The study was of a fire safety educational puppet show based on the Year 1 Queensland Fire and Rescue Service (QFRS) Fire Ed program, and presented to early childhood students (P - 3) in Queensland.

An independent evaluator attended all the performances to observe the students' reactions. He then accompanied them to their classrooms after the performance to discuss their reactions and returned four to six weeks later to discuss fire safety with the students and to assess the impact of the performance on their longer-term understanding of fire safety issues. The study found that the puppetry performance served to enhance student knowledge of fire safety by providing new knowledge, reinforcing previously learned knowledge and providing a new context in which they could rehearse their knowledge. The study also emphasised the importance of humour in teaching students about potentially disastrous situations. A serendipitous finding was that while younger students (those in pre-school and years one and two) focused primarily on the fire safety message, by Year 3, many students considered that they knew it all' and expressed greater interes in the medium of puppetry than in the fire safety message. From this it was concluded that while constant reinforcement of safety messages is essential, we must guard againstfire safety fatigue' that may lead to complacency.

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ID Code: 7778
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
Additional Information: The contents of this journal can be freely accessed online via the journal’s web page (see link).
Additional URLs:
Keywords: Fire Safety, Early Childhood Education, Disaster Education, John Lidstone
ISSN: 1324-1540
Subjects: Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY (160000) > SOCIOLOGY (160800) > Sociology of Education (160809)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > EDUCATION SYSTEMS (130100) > Early Childhood Education (excl. Maori) (130102)
Australian and New Zealand Standard Research Classification > EDUCATION (130000) > CURRICULUM AND PEDAGOGY (130200) > Humanities and Social Sciences Curriculum and Pedagogy (excl. Economics Business and Management) (130205)
Divisions: Past > Research Centres > Office of Education Research
Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Education
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2006 Emergency Management Australia
Deposited On: 17 May 2007 00:00
Last Modified: 29 Feb 2012 13:27

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