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HUG a Firefighter program eases kids' fears of firefighters in full gear

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ARP, TX (KLTV) -

There's a newly formed group in East Texas encouraging us to hug a firefighter. In fact, the group is called HUG.

It's an acronym for Hurry Up Grab. The group is teaching children that they shouldn't be afraid of a firefighter wearing all their gear.

We went to Arp Elementary School to see how HUG helps take the fear out of seeing what can look like a monster in a smoke-filled room.

You're six years old, it's dark, there's a fire alarm sounding, and the room is filled with smoke. Suddenly a hulking figure appears sounding like Darth Vader. You might want to hide.

Jeanna Farmer, a volunteer firefighter, helped start HUG. She says if a child hides from the big, scary-appearing firefighter during a fire, it could be deadly.

"We have found that children who are scared tend to hide under beds and in closets. That's something that we're trying to dissolve; that fear for the kids," Jeanna said.

And it works pretty well. Jeanna has a talk with the kids about how to act during a fire, and the kids catch on pretty quick.

"So he's going to tell you to hunker down; now what do we mean by hunker down?" Jeanna asked a room full of kids. They responded by putting their hands on their heads, face down on the floor.

Jeanna tells the kids if the house is burning, they need to get outside as quickly as they can, through a window if they're in their bedroom, and have a place outside designated for the family to meet.

"Please do not by any means go back into your house," Jeanna pleaded with the kids.

The kids got to see firefighters in full gear go through a rescue; then they asked questions.

"If you're trapped in an apartment, how would you get out if you were on the third level?" one child asked.

"Let our outside team know that we were in trouble, and get someone else to come in and help us," Jeanna replied.

"What if you have something real heavy on you that you can't get off?" a third grader asked.

"They're going to get on their radio and say they need this piece of equipment," Jeanna answered.

With their questions answered, the escape plan in place, there's only one thing left to do: Hurry Up Grab a firefighter.

Which they, of course, let the kids do, and that shows them there's no need to fear the firefighter.

If you would like to know more or set up a presentation by HUG a Firefighter, go to KLTV.com and go to the Big Red Box. There you will find a link.

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