On the night of October 18, 2001, five-year-old Matthew Bergeron took action and helped his family escape a fire in their home. The fire started when heat from a pan of boiling water melted an unlit candle, placed too close to the burner, causing the wax to ignite.
The fire quickly spread causing the kitchen to fill up with black smoke. Matthew, who had learned about fire safety in school the day before, stayed calm and reminded his brother, Joe, 8, and sister, Carrie, 4, to get out of the home and go to their outside meeting place. He also told them to crawl low under the smoke and reminded his mom to call 911.
As part of a Risk Watch homework assignment, Matthew and his mom had developed an escape plan the night before the fire. The Woonsocket Fire Department, along with first grade teacher Melissa Pierce at the Bernon Heights Elementary School, taught Matthew fire safety through the Risk Watch program.
"As an educator, I was thankful for the opportunity to have taught such safety strategies in the event of an emergency," said Ms. Pierce.