Sunset Elementary School students learn fire safety during fitness training |

Sunset Elementary School students learn fire safety during fitness training

Mac Zimmerman, fire prevention/education technician, supervises as students use water packs to douse a simulated wildfire during a fire safety fitness training circuit designed by Sunset Elementary School physical education teacher Johnny Ford.
Sasha Nelson/staff

CRAIG — Where there’s smoke, there might be fire, but there is also often teamwork.

This was one of the lessons learned by students at Sunset Elementary School during a special fire safety fitness circuit designed by physical education instructor Johnny Ford and former BLM Hotshot and Forest Service firefighter and Craig resident Mac Zimmerman, who is now the Fire Prevention/Education Tech for Ashley National Forest in Vernal, Utah.

Students race to pull a 40-pound vest on the end of a long fire hose.

“The message of teamwork is something that is spread throughout Sunset, both with our students and as a staff,” Ford said.

Students were divided into groups of six. They then ran from one side of the gym to the other, grabbed the end of a fire hose attached to a 45-pound vest, and pulled it to them using an arm-over-arm technique. Once students had their vests, they had to assist others in their group. No group was allowed to advance to the next stage until everyone had completed the task.

Next, students had to drag their vests and ropes back to the start, then help each other put on water packs — special backpacks filled with water used by wildland firefighters. Using the packs and working as a team, the students had to use their water packs to put out a simulated fire, then help each other remove the packs.

After the drills, the entire class worked together in a role-playing exercise to simulate a rescue.

First, one or two students who referred to the circuit as “easy” were given the opportunity to pull Zimmerman and Ford from a simulated fire. When that proved impossible, the rest of the class was given the opportunity to help pull the two men, which proved to be much easier.

When the fitness circuit was completed, students were given the opportunity to ask Zimmerman any firefighting and teamwork related questions.

Students were curious to know if he’d ever rescued any wild animals trapped in a fire.

Students ask Mac Zimmerman, fire prevention/education technician, questions about fighting fires.

“I have seen many leaving fires, but we don’t usually stop to assist. And I’ve seen some die in fires, which is another good reason to prevent them from starting,” he said.

Zimmerman asked students what they learned about teamwork. Many replied they thought teamwork was important for fighting fires.

“You’re right, and that’s why it’s important to check your emotions or what you might be feeling about someone at the door; work as a team to get the job done,” he said.

Contact Sasha Nelson at 970-875-1794 or





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