FirePup program shares an important message with kids

FirePup program shares an important message with kids

The National Fire Safety Council's FirePup program is fun for kids, and the message of fire safety is critical to share. Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue has been utilizing the donations of the community for decades to connect with young school children throughout the area and to promote ways they can make their homes safer.


Heads up! FirePup is on the loose, and if people around Sugarcreek aren’t careful, they may just end up learning a whole lot of valuable information about fire safety.

The Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue members have always strived to make a deep impact when it comes to sharing the importance of fire safety, so when the opportunity arose to join the ranks of many fire departments across the nation and join the FirePup safety program, they jumped at the chance.

FirePup is a national movement to create more awareness by providing crucial materials concerning fire prevention to children in area schools from preschool to fifth grade. FirePup offers age-specific activity manuals, coloring books, wrist bands, pamphlets on smoke alarms, fire escape, 911, and other fundamental fire and rescue operations while also including stickers and badges for the kids. The department even hands out fire helmets to kids.

“It’s amazing how excited kids will get over a $3 helmet,” Capt. Michael Beachy said. “The FirePup program is something that began in the 1990s when Chief [Jim] Harrison was here. It’s kind of fun for the kids because of the FirePup mascot, and there is a lot of information that we can share with children that is really vital to get out there.”

Beachy said while the department does its best to get out and share the importance of fire safety, it is everyone’s job to make sure the critical fire safety information is shared with others.

“It takes a community to protect a community and keep it safe,” Beachy said. “We generally do all of our school visits in a one-week span, but fire prevention is more than just one week. It’s all year around.”

FirePup is a program that was created through the National Fire Safety Council. NFSC was formed in 1979 in response to the overwhelming need for fire safety materials. NFSC directs a concentrated effort toward creating a special fire safety educational program of materials and services for all ages including children, adults and seniors, which assists fire departments in helping save lives through education.

NFSC provides local fire departments with the most comprehensive resource of fire safety education materials in the world. The council’s in-house research and development department is the only one of its kind in the country. Experienced educators, artists, writers and technicians create hundreds of original materials designed for all age groups including folders, place mats, color and activity sheets, books, games, stickers, and other educational tools. The NFSC staff has worked tirelessly to compile and provide current information that is educationally correct, age-appropriate and appealing to each age of children.

Donations have allowed the department to purchase a good deal of material that they take out into area schools once every year. According to Beachy, the department visits both Ragersville and Miller Avenue elementary schools; around 10 parochial schools and a private school in and around the Village of Sugarcreek, Sugarcreek Township and into Auburn Township; and one school in Clark Township.

“Last year we connected with more than 500 kids through the program,” Beachy said. “The biggest message we share is that fire safety starts with them. We want people to be proactive in making sure they are safe. We are reactive, and we would much rather not have to ever respond, so safety begins at the home. It takes a lot of time and effort to get that message out to the kids, but it is worth it because kids’ minds are so resilient and they remember everything they hear. Hopefully they receive this message of fire safety and some of the tips we share and take them home to their parents and practice them.”

While the message is extremely important, the ongoing success of the program relies heavily on the community supporting the fire and rescue mission.

In order to cover the expenses incurred through the FirePup safety program, Sugarcreek Fire and Rescue asks individuals and businesses to sponsor packages of material for students in the community.

For as little as $50, a person or business can sponsor 20 children with safety material or basically a classroom. A donation of $150 would sponsor 60 children while it takes $500 to sponsor 200 children. Any amount is appreciated because they pool all of the donations together, and it all adds up to providing valuable resources and information to the youth. The hope is that this information and material will make its way home with the children, where their families can talk about it and plan for emergencies together.

“In cooperation with our department, the public will be providing some great safety education materials and shows for the children,” Beachy said. “We are able to distribute the materials and videos to our local schools, share it at safety fairs, at public safety events and presentations at the fire station. Through this partnership we are able to work on our goal of making a safer community for all of our citizens.”

All donations are tax-deductible, and checks may be made out to National Fire Safety Council Inc. and mailed to Sugarcreek Fire Department, 410 S. Broadway, Sugarcreek, OH 44681.

If someone doesn’t live in Sugarcreek Township, that doesn’t mean they can’t make a meaningful contribution. A donation to any area fire and EMS department to begin the new year can go a long way in making sure every community is safe.

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