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Fire Department Sends Clowns into Local Schools

This innovative program, hosted by East Pierce Fire and Rescue, teaches fire and life safety skills.

Back in October, East Pierce Fire and Rescue launched a unique, new educational program to teach fire and life safety skills to area school children. To make the presentation memorable, East Pierce personnel dressed in clown costumes, silly make-up and funny noses.

Designed for kindergarten through third graders, the 25-minute assembly-style format features songs, lots of audience participation, puppets, sound effects, and, of course, the clowns "Backdraft" and "Highrise."

This year’s lessons include what to do in case of an emergency, how to call 9-1-1, the importance of exit drills in the home, what to do if a smoke alarm goes off and how to stop, drop, cover and roll if on fire.

More importantly, the children seem to remember these critical safety lessons taught by our funny fire friends. They aren’t the only ones.

“The teachers love the new format and students learned so much,” said Dieringer Elementary School Principal Connie GeRoy.

By the time the troupe finishes performing at all 18 of the elementary schools within the fire district, they will have entertained—and educated—nearly 5,000 students.

East Pierce Fire & Rescue has a long history of providing fire and life safety instruction to area students. For years, the firefighters have gone into the local schools. Last year, East Pierce firefighters taught CPR to 283 middle school students and 370 high school students in schools throughout the fire district. The Fire Safety Trailer has been a mainstay at school and community events.

“The partnership between our organization and the school districts is critical to the development of safety awareness in our community,” said East Pierce Fire Chief Jerry E. Thorson.

Next year, the troupe will be back with a whole new show. In addition to the younger students, a different program will be presented next year for older kids. “We are creating a separate assembly, with more appropriate messages for them,” said East Pierce Public Education Specialist Dina “Highrise” Sutherland.

“It will keep us busy,” said Lieutenant Marc “Backdraft” Lash. “We’re just getting started.”

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Information provided by East Pierce Fire and Rescue

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