“EDITH is not the name of your girlfriend,” is how Flash the firefighter clown explained a safety concept to fellow firefighter clown Truckee. “EDITH stands for Exit Drill In The Home, is the correct answer.”
Gainesville Fire-Rescue kicked off Fire Safety Week with an animated, high-energy presentation of critical home and personal safety information kids need. The adage of “Stop, Drop, and Roll” was covered, but the contemporary show went beyond that, too.
Matt Edington, a GF-R captain, explained the department has presented a fire safety show to Gainesville school children for more than 20 years.
“We teach fire safety and some of the most current safety topics,” Edington said. “These topics include things like exit drills and even computer safety.”
Nearly two-thirds of the department, or over 20 employees, help prepare and present the annual event, he added.
“Rookies are required to participate as a part of their safety education requirement,” is how Edington explained their theatrical responsibilities. The fast-paced presentation was energetically received by some of the youngest students at Thomas A. Edison Elementary School on Tuesday morning, Oct. 8.
The department scheduled over seven shows this week at Gainesville Independent School District facilities and St. Mary’s Catholic School. The last two shows are presented on the North Central Texas College campus for students attending county schools outside of Gainesville.
Jeffrey Stevens, division chief of training/public education, said the department follows the National Fire Protection Association’s theme. This year’s theme is “Not every hero wears a cape. Plan and practice your escape.”
“We try to choose a theme that the bigger kids will recognize,” Edington said. “That is why we are playing off of ‘The Avengers’ movie.”
Keeping a roomful of wiggly elementary students focused and learning important information seemed like a heroic task, but the department apparently succeeded.
The Avengers theme put firefighter Adam Flowers into a long blonde wig and carrying a large hammer in his role as Thor. Flowers, or Thor, wore a cape as he and Spiderman, played by firefighter Ethan Facio, learned what kids need to know when calling 911 from firefighter clowns Flash and Truckee.
Zane Ferguson, as Flash, showed the students his new Apple — a large wooden apple that he flipped over to reveal a phone’s buttons.
Truckee, played by firefighter Randy Prestage, taught the students not to forget to push the green or “send” button when calling 911. He and Flash explained the need to be able to tell the operator who, where and what the emergency was.
Students learned about escaping their homes by knowing how to crawl to safety to be in the “good area.”
Teachers in attendance for the presentation were brought forward near the end of the program to take a pop quiz from the firefighters. They got the chance to “celebrate” their correct answers by dancing the Hokey Pokey for all the others in the audience.
Ferguson said he has been a part of presentation for the last six years.
“We try to present the latest trends in safety,” he said. “It is important that the students understand the theme of this year that not all heroes wear capes.”