The Story of Little Zayd
Mawlana Haider Ali Madani
“Mum, we're going on a school trip tomorrow, but either you or Dad needs to sign this form first,” Little Zayd eagerly informed his mother, holding up the paper. His mother, in the midst of her kitchen tasks, gently interrupted him. “That's wonderful, Zayd. But finish your food first, and then bring me the form.” After finishing his meal, Little Zayd took the form to his mother, who was in the kitchen. She looked at the letter which had the following message:
Dear Parents. A trip to the fire station has been planned for Year 4 and Year 5. If you want your child to take part in this trip, please sign the permission slip below. Children who will not be participating will have the day off.
“Fine. Dad can sign it when he comes back from work. Put it on the table in his room,” said Mum, handing the form back to Little Zayd.
The next day, Year 4 and Year 5 were stood in separate lines in the assembly hall. The rest of the students were in their classrooms. The bus arrived and before the children got onboard, Mr. Farooq said, “Nobody wander off away from the group without permission, and do not cause any trouble. Now, walk in your lines and sit in the bus.”
In less than an hour, they arrived in front of the gates of a large building, the words “Fire Station” written on it in vibrant yellow. The driver whizzed the bus inside and stopped near the entrance to the main hall. Then, Mr. Farooq, a wise and kind-hearted teacher, gathered the children and instructed them to step out of the bus. As they were forming neat lines, their faces lit with excited smiles, ten people in red uniforms were standing by the entrance, and Mr. Farooq greeted them all. Then one of them came forward, greeted the children and said, “Children! Fire is a very dangerous thing we must protect ourselves from. You have probably only seen a fire burning on a stove, but sometimes a fire can spread across entire houses and factories. If something like this occurs, fire stations are called to put out the fire. Whenever you see a large fire, call 999 immediately. Now, follow me.”
After saying this, he led the children into a room called the control room. There was a table in the middle of the room with lots of telephones. The children had never seen so many in one place before.
“Whenever someone calls the fire station, the call is answered in this room by an operator. The operator will then ask for important details about the fire. Can you see this button?” the man asked as he pointed towards a red button by the door.
“If the fire is severe, the operator will press this button and an alarm will sound. The staff are put on high alert. Now I will show you a fire truck.” He led the children beyond the main hall and into an open garage in which there were large red trucks.
“When your parents tell you to get ready for school, how long do you take? Some of you will take ten minutes, fifteen minutes and even up to thirty minutes. When the fire alarm goes off, the firefighters get ready and are standing by the truck in two minutes.”
“Only two minutes?” the children said in amazement.
“Absolutely!” exclaimed the firefighter, delighted by the students' question. “They put on their fire-resistant clothing and boots and sit in the truck in only two minutes. Normally four people sit in each truck. The red light on top of the truck is the siren. As soon as the truck sets off, the siren goes off to alert other drivers to give way. This allows the truck to reach the fire as soon as possible.” Another student raised his hand to ask a question, “If a tall building is on fire, how do you put out the fire?”
“Good question. Here, I will show you the answer.” He then asked a colleague to bring the fire truck out of the garage. Then the children saw a ladder being raised from the top of the truck until it was completely upright.
“This is called a Bronto Skylift. There is a platform upon which two or three people can stand. This is used to extinguish fires in high places.” When the fire truck exited the garage, the children saw a motorcycle behind it. Mr. Farooq asked about it and the man answered, “Sometimes it is difficult to enter tight alleyways with the truck. So, the motorcycle is used instead.”
Excitement filled the air as the children entered the main hall, where a group of courageous firefighters stood, ready to face any challenge that came their way. Mr. Farooq, with great admiration in his voice, addressed the children, “These brave firefighters are the true heroes who fearlessly confront the fires that we dare not approach. They risk their lives to protect and save us. Let us show our gratitude and respect by saluting them.”