The New Bedford Fire Department invited local families to Fire Station 2 in Downtown New Bedford Wednesday afternoon for information on fire safety and prevention. 

The open house was part of the department's Student Awareness of Fire Education (S.A.F.E.) Program, which offers fire safety and prevention best practices to area kindergartners and third graders.

"Our first line of defense, as far as fires are concerned, is educating the public to prevent them from occurring because, actually, once the big red trucks have to roll out the door it's already a foregone conclusion," said Fire Chief Michael Gomes.

Children attending the open house learned about how to stay low to the ground and avoid smoke inhalation during a house fire and how to "Stop, Drop and Roll."

Since the inception of the program, S.A.F.E. has been credited with reducing fire casualties among persons under 18 by 66% throughout Massachusetts over the course of 24 years.

The S.A.F.E. Program isn't only geared toward children. The city's elderly community also benefits.

"We also have a SENIOR S.A.F.E. Program in which we use to educate our elderly, which are some of our most at-risk individuals, and we go into safe cooking practices and fall prevention and things of that nature," Gomes said.

This week is also National Fire Prevention Week. The National Fire Protection Association's theme for 2016 is "Don't Wait: Check the Date! Replace Smoke Alarms Every 10 Years."

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