With drought conditions keeping area fire departments cautious throughout the summer, the Texas A&M Forest Service dropped by the Adams Street Community Center to give kids tips on fire safety.

Forest Service Wildland Urban Interface Specialist Robyn Griffith said parents cannot be with their children at every moment of a child’s life so teaching kids what to do to keep a small flame from becoming a raging grass or forest fire is essential.

“It’s very important to start early,” Griffith said. “The earlier they figure out fire can be dangerous, the better …. Whenever they learn early they have a better understanding when they get older. We want them to know even if someone is not there with them. They can be responsible and not do anything that can cause a fire or, if they see one, they can call somebody that can help put that out.”

The presentation by the Texas A&M Forest Service was part of the Brownwood Library’s summer reading program, attracting hundreds of children to its two sessions Thursday morning. Both lessons imbedded lesson regarding fire safety in a narrative featuring U.S. Forest Service icon Smokey the Bear. During the sessions children learned Smokey’s Wildfire Prevention Rules: always be careful with fire, never play with matches or lighters, always watch a campfire, make sure a campfire is completely out before leaving and, of course, only you can prevent forest fires.

Although most children attending were part of a daycare or summer school program, Griffith said the lessons learned Thursday are universally applicable to urban life and.

“Smokey is a national program. We want everyone to know what we’re doing,” she said. “This was my first time doing it. I probably could have done it a bit better, but it was a learning experience. The turnout was great, especially being the day after a holiday and everyone being out of town. I enjoyed it. You see how much they already understand and what you can build on to make sure they know what’s going on.”

Next week, the area kids can spend the day reading with therapy dogs. The summer reading program will conclude July 19 with its Itunes and Tales event.