Inside the new Allen ISD Service Center on Watters Rd., dozens of drivers and bus monitors are rehearsing for an emergency. Simulated flames lick the edges of a flat screen TV as Allen Fire Prevention Specialist Adam Bravo removes the pin of a red-barreled fire extinguisher.
“You want to remember P.A.S.S.,” he tells them, turning toward the television. “Pull, aim, squeeze and sweep.”
No foam escapes when Bravo presses the trigger. Instead, a green laser beam appears on the screen. The digital embers begin to subside as he sweeps the beam across the monitor. Intrigued, drivers line up to try it themselves.
Fire Department Public Education Coordinator Linda Greenidge helped bring the BullsEye Training System to Allen. The department spent years conducting fire safety training with a “fire pan”—an open flame fed by diesel fuel. For obvious reasons the class was held outdoors, leaving it at the whim of Texas weather. At least five training sessions were rescheduled in 2013 due to high winds.
“We were in a pickle,” admitted Greenidge.
That’s when she spotted an alluring offer from Firehouse Subs, a fast food chain run by two former firefighters. The company was giving away $20,000 to local fire departments for new equipment or training supplies. Greenidge’s proposal earned their attention—and eventually their funding.
“The benefits are reaching further than most grants we’ve received,” said Greenidge. “We can use it in senior centers, moms groups—so many people interact with it.”
Without the risks of an open flame, the fire department expanded its hands-on training to include students. Fire extinguisher training is already part of TEKS requirements for sixth graders. Thanks to the BullsEye System, every student now receives hands-on practice.
“We piloted the training last year at Boon Elementary,” said Greenidge. “But we already have classes lined up for this school year.”
The training can be eye-opening for kids and adults alike. Some Allen ISD bus drivers were surprised by the weight of the extinguisher. Others expected the blast of suppressant to last longer than 10-15 seconds. When driver Kathleen Rice took a turn at the monitor, her extinguisher ran out of juice before the flames disappeared.
“What do you do now?” Fire Prevention Specialist Adam Bravo prodded as the screen flickered back to life. She paused for a moment.
“Run!” shouted someone in the back row.
“I hope the biggest thing they take away from it is not to be afraid,” said Fire Prevention Specialist Jason Denton. He walks the class through a mental checklist—like aiming for the base of the flame and preparing for a loud blast once you pull the trigger.
“Yes, you’re going to panic. Yes, you’re going to be confused,” says Greenidge. “But you want those memories to kick in along with the adrenaline.”