by Jonathan Weaver
For 14 years, children and adults have learned fire safety at 911 Firehouse Lane, but now they have the opportunity to take those lessons home with them.
Students have been able to walk, crawl and climb through the Armstrong County Firemen’s Association safety trailer at schools and community functions, and now firefighters hope to continue giving a spiral fire safety book to all second graders in local schools.
Each book, published through Community Safety Net is 112 pages – full of fire safety and first-aid tips before an assortment of coloring pages and games. A DVD within the front cover also includes much of the safety information.
Armstrong County Fire Association Director and Kittanning Hose Company #4 Fire Chief Earl “Buzz” Kline said the books are a great supplement for children.
“We started this program last year, and (Kittanning Hose Company #6) done it for probably eight years prior,” Kline said “We got support from Kittanning, Ford City, Apollo, Freeport area and got enough money collected to supply 800 books to the second graders of Armstrong County. Our goal is to cover every second grader whether it’s public school or private school.
“We’re ecstatic about the community support – right now, I think we have enough money collected for 450 books. My goal for this year is 1,000 books – we don’t want to leave any second grader behind.”
All community donors are listed inside the front cover of the book. $15 purchases one book.
So far, about 90 throughout Armstrong County have donated to the cause.
Books will go to press in mid-September and be delivered to fire departments in time for “Fire Prevention Week” in October.
“Homes can be replaced, material things – like toys – can be replaced, but you can’t put a dollar figure on a human life,” Kline said. “We’re striving to make people aware – this is not just for children, but the book can be used by parents.”
Every Fall, students can practice the fire safety tips with firefighters at their school or get to practice in the Armstrong County Fireman’s Association fire safety house trailer.
The trailer, acquired in 2001 with the help of the late-Ralph Knepshield offers three makeshift rooms – a kitchen, living room and bedroom – to show residents where fire hazards might be, such as overloaded circuits, microwaves and fire places. People even evacuate out the bedroom window down a safety ladder
“It’s a very, very important tool in fire prevention,” Kline said. “If it’s available, we go.
“If it helps one child or one family, everything we do is worth it.”
Second grade students seem to retain the most information each year, Kline said, even nearly remembering word-for-word as they go on to intermediate and middle schools.
The trailer went to several schools in the 2014-15 school year as well as was seen at several community functions -like the Rural Valley Fire Department’s 100th Anniversary celebration in May and at the Richard G. Snyder YMCA in Kittanning. It’s even gone into Butler and Clarion Counties in the past.
Interested donors – individuals, families or businesses – can contact Kline at 724-321-2028 or at firstname.lastname@example.org or Jim Koverman at 724-504-6573.