Seymour firefighters stayed busy in October, but not putting out more fires than usual.
During the week of Oct. 5 through 9, the fire department spent time in kindergarten classrooms throughout the city teaching fire safety to students as part of National Fire Prevention Week. They also visited area preschools throughout the month.
Kindergarten classes have always visited the fire stations during October, getting a glimpse of where firefighters sleep and eat when they are on duty.
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“For many years, as long as any of us can remember, the kindergarten students have visited the stations,” said Fire Chief Brad Lucas.
The highlight of the tours include seeing the big red firetruck, meeting department mascot Fire Pup and getting a plastic fireman’s hat and an apple.
But this year, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic forced Lucas to come up with a different plan.
“I was concerned that we wouldn’t be able to present our fire prevention message to the kindergartners this year due to the pandemic,” he said.
But after talking with Seymour Community School Corp. Superintendent Brandon Harpe, they decided fire safety is too important to cancel, even for COVID.
“He suggested that we visit each classroom rather than the students being transported to the stations,” Lucas said.
This year’s theme was “Serve Up Fire Safety in the Kitchen,” and firefighters explained the dangers of hot items on the stove.
Besides learning tips on how to keep themselves safe in the event of a fire, students still were able to get their plastic red fireman’s helmet and an apple, too.
“I’ve heard dating back to the 1960s, possibly even the ‘50s, we have given those out when their tours were completed,” Lucas said. “We were able to keep that tradition going by taking them to their classrooms.”
The fire department also has a new mascot this year, Sparky, who replaced Fire Pup. Kindergarten students had the opportunity to meet Sparky for the first time.
Students still were able to see the inside of the fire station virtually thanks to the Jackson County Public Library, which filmed firefighters giving a tour this summer.
“The video turned out very well, and they allowed us to share it with the students during our presentation,” Lucas said. “In each classroom, we played the video, then interacted with the students with a fire safety lesson and had a firefighter in his full turnout gear for them to see. “
The presentations lasted about 30 minutes, and Lucas said they were a hit with students and teachers, but he hopes they will be able to resume in-person tours next fall.