• 25°

Sparking fire safety

On Thursday afternoon, one of the Austin Fire Department’s rigs rolled into the Community Recreation Center with a special passenger.

Waiting for them were students from the YMCA Preschool, adorned with their own plastic fire helmets and waiting to see Sparky, the AFD’s mascot.

This past week was Fire Safety Week and is usually filled with firefighter visits to schools and an open house at the fire station; however, COVID-19 prevented all of that this week.

That didn’t mean firefighters would leave the week without activities.

Firefighters Tim Hansen and Tim Olson, along with Administrative Assistant Marie Ree put together a video filled with fire safety tips as well as gear demonstrations and a virtual tour of the station.

All of these items were placed on a thumb drive and distributed to kindergarten, first and fourth grade students throughout Austin.

Even with the altered delivery, it was still important that firefighters reached students during a very important week.

“It’s very important,” said Austin Fire Chief Jim McCoy. “Every year when we get into the schools, parents come up to us a day or two after and comment about what their student learned at school. The need to provide a meeting place, escape plan from a home and replacing batteries for smoke alarms.”

“It reminds parents that we need to do these tasks,” McCoy added.

Even though it was fun for the children to see Sparky, a fan favorite from many kids when coming to the open house, it was important for the firefighters themselves to get out.

“All the firefighters realize the importance of educating the youth,” McCoy said. “They all recognize the value of fire prevention for the community. They know that at the end of the day the satisfaction is there for them.”