9-year-old uses school lesson to save herself from house fire

Published: Jul. 23, 2021 at 2:49 PM EDT
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ELKHART, Ind. (WSBT) – Arynne Nichols remembered an important safety lesson she learned in school when her house caught on fire.

The 9-year-old girl was calm, cool and collected when a kitchen fire caused her home to quickly fill with smoke.

“I couldn’t see and I couldn’t breathe down there. So, I came in [my bedroom] and closed my door,” Nichols said, following what she was taught in school.

“A technique that we use called, VENT – enter, isolate, search. They’re taught to close their bedroom door. They’re taught to put a barrier down to keep the smoke from coming in. They’re taught to open a window and go to the window and call for help,” Penn Township Fire Department Battalion Chief Anthony said.

While her brother called for her, Nichols used her training to keep her safe.

“I covered the vent with one of the towels I had in my room and I opened my window when the firemen got here,” Nichols explained. “I called for help and then I broke my screen door, and they got me off of the roof and onto the ground where I was safe.”

The Penn Township fire chief says all too often the result is different when things don’t go well, stressing the importance of public education in fire safety for the community.

“She just went along with her training. She obviously paid attention in school,” said Chief Keith Witt. “She put to work what she learned and it was the Elkhart City Fire Department that came to her school when she was in second grade, taught these kids what they needed to know, and well, it stuck with her. It was great, one of the best stories that I’ve had in my career to see the outcome like that.”

The fire chief asked Nichols if she wanted to be a firefighter because she did such a good job in that stressful situation, but she told him she wants to be a veterinarian.

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