Fiery lesson for Monifieth pupils

Monifieth High School pupils saw a different side to one member of staff at their first practical fire and chemistry experiment.

On Friday Balmossie-based firefighter Keith McFarlane swapped his shirt and tie for fire-proof dungarees and a helmet when he led a practical demonstration blending fire safety and chemistry coursework.

Third year chemistry pupils saw the importance firefighters place on understanding chemistry and how it affects their working environment.

In one demonstration pupils in personal protective equipment used powder fire extinguishers to put out a gas fire. Pupils also witnessed the danger of the ‘flashback’ in a specially constructed chip pan fire demonstration unit.

Keith explained how he got involved. He said: “I was a qualified PE teacher here and also do additional work with the supported needs class and I had been in with Mr Sleigh’s chemistry class to help out with some of the pupils when he approached me.

“I said we can do better than that, we can actually practically show them a chip pan fire, reinforce the knowledge they’ve been learning in class. This was the first time this has been done and we will be looking to build on it for the third year class next year.”

He continued: “The main problem seems to be alcohol but chip pan fires are still a concern of the Fire Service.

“One of the main things we try to advise people on is chip pan fires in the home. We conduct a lot of home fire safety visits and one of the things we ask people is if they have a chip pan.

“We do have the facility to offer them a free exchange for a new deep fat fryer and we dispose of their old one and that takes away the issue.”

Chemistry teacher David Sleigh was pleased with the results. He said: “I have done this experiment in a thimble which still allows me to get the point and the science over but something like this, done full size, lets them see it for real.

“It’s all very well setting fire to a thimble but for them to see that today that gives them an idea that’s a life skill and they know what to do should they come across that in later life.”