WINNIPEG – The Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service is introducing a new way to send fire-safety messages to young children: computer games.

A new game called “The Great Escape” is meant to help children make smart decisions when faced with a fire.

The Firefighter’s Burn Fund put up $50,000 to bring the game to life. It’s a personal mission for the game’s creator, Winnipeg firefighter Shane Ferguson.

Ferguson was inspired to find new ways to get the safety message out to children after finding a five-year-old girl hiding under her bed in a fire-ravaged house five years ago. The girl died two days later in hospital.

“The message is getting out, but they’re not retaining it,” he says. “We’re losing kids every year to house fires because the first thing they want to do is hide.”

The game is aimed at students from kindergarten to Grade 8.

“It shows the way how you’re supposed to get out of the house when there’s a fire,” says Paige Buss, a six year old who has tried the game.

While the older students acknowledge the game is for younger kids, they seem to enjoy it.

“It’s for little kids mostly, but it’s pretty good,” says 12-year-old Danelle Cloutier. “It teaches you what to do and what not to do if there’s a fire.”

“I knew most of it, but I didn’t know you should check the batteries in your flashlight, so that was a new thing for me,” adds Meagan Ferguson, also 12.

The game is already played in 215 Winnipeg schools. It will go online during the first week in October, which is fire prevention week across the country.