Fire safety pays off for students

Published 8:10 am Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Abigail Mueller spent about a week designing her poster, “My Top Five Safety Tips.” Using crayons, construction paper and other materials, she put together the top Junior Fire Safety Program poster in Austin.

“It was fun thinking of it,” Mueller said.

Mueller was one of 10 fourth-grade poster winners across the city in the Austin Fire Department’s Junior Fire Safety Program this year. The program educates fourth graders in the four Austin Public Schools elementary buildings as well as Pacelli Elementary School every year, according to Tim Hansen, the city’s fire marshal.

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“What they learn are skill they’re going to be able to take throughout their life,” Hansen said.

Two winners out of each elementary school were chosen, and the winning posters were judged by AFD staff, with Fire Chief Mickey Healey picking the winner.

“This is probably the best thing we can do for the public is get out and interact with these kids,” Healey said. “It makes a good rapport with the department and a good rapport with the city.”

It wasn’t easy coming up with the posters. Emily Toland, a fourth-grader at Pacelli Elementary School, made three posters before she was done. She wasn’t satisfied with her poster the first time.

“It was really ugly,” Toland said. Her second poster fell down into the heater in her classroom.

Each winner got a gift bag of goodies from McDonald’s Courtesy Corp., which includes a T-shirt and a shoulder bag. They also got a gift card from Target.

Mueller’s poster will be entered into the state Junior Fire Safety Program contest.

“I’m very proud of her,” said Amy Mueller-Wilde, Abigail’s mother. “She loves to draw and she’s very creative.”