Henderson Fire Department wraps up another year of teaching youth how to stay safe


HENDERSON, KY, April 22, 2016– Sometimes when members of Henderson’s Fire Prevention Team are off-duty and in their “civilian” clothes, kids of all ages will approach them out in public and call them by character names.

Like Batman. Or Thor. Or even Britney Spears.

That’s probably because for several years the team has produced character-driven Fire Prevention skits based on pop culture figures to take into the schools, hoping to make an impression that sticks with their message.

That tickles team members, since it means that Henderson’s youthful citizens are connecting with and remembering the firefighters who serve them (and also means they’re probably remembering the safety information that’s first and foremost).

“I can’t begin to tell you how proud I am of our Fire Prevention Team. They never cease to amaze me on what they come up with,” said Henderson Fire Chief Scott Foreman. “They do such a great job at getting the kids interested by using stuff they can relate to. I truly feel that the reduced volume of call for fire-related emergencies is a direct relation to our program.”

This past week, the Fire Prevention Team wrapped up their school programming for the year with a visit to Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center.

The youngest students like those at TBJELC are entertained with a puppet show that includes Sparky (the fire dog), muppet-like characters singing catchy tunes with such lyrics as “Stay Down, Crawl Out” and a giant pack of matches containing some very poetic “match heads.”

The preschoolers giggled as Sparky demonstrated how to “stop, drop and roll” at the conclusion of a boogie-woogie song with the same message.

Then their eyes got wide as Team Member Tanner Simon donned his turn-out gear piece by piece to show what a firefighter looks like when he’s ready to fight a fire.

When he was fully geared up, program leader Lt. Mike Ivie asked: “Are you ever going to be afraid of a firefighter?” “Noooooo,” the children chorused in unison.

Advice the kids received during the program included: Don’t play with matches or lighters, “stay down and crawl out” if your house catches fire, “stop, drop and roll” if your clothes catch fire, and “ask your parents to have a home fire drill.”

“And 911 is the most important phone number you’ll ever have to remember,” Ivie added.

Some of the Fire Prevention Team members have been at it for years.

“It’s one of my favorite things to do,” said Charles “Dino” Abbott, who’s into his second decade with the team.

He noted that the team has nine or 10 different character-driven programs for the older students that they rotate so that elementary school students probably never see the same one during their school years.

Abbott said the result of such a program is difficult to measure but he’s certain that the Fire Prevention programs are effective since Henderson has fewer incidents of juvenile fire than surrounding counties.

Chief Foreman is confident about that as well.

“The impact for this program is probably a lot larger than we can ever imagine.  Children are like sponges and they pick up on so much, then they go home and tell everybody what they have learned,” he said. “It is truly the ripple effect.”

Foreman also said his department is always looking for ways to expand and improve the program.

“We look at different age groups to target,” he said, adding that the team will be back in the Henderson County Schools in October with a new “season” for Fire Prevention Month.

“It is a big commitment for our City and I feel that this is something the citizens should be very proud of,” Foreman continued. “Henderson has supported a program like this for decades, and not to any surprise we have always led the way in the delivery of our program.  You can’t put a value on the lessons these children are learning.”

Team Members are: Shawn Crabtree, Brad Mattingly, Charles “Dino” Abbott, Travis Denton, Michael Ivie, Michael Polley, Eddie Payne, Chris Connell, Billy Schwartz, Brandon Lingerfelt, Cory Agnew, John Pace, Codie Comer, Tanner Simon, Brett Jones and Michael McChessney.

042216 HFD-1042216 HFD-2042216 HFD-3

Captions: (3765) Thelma B. Johnson Early Learning Center students are entertained by the puppets of the Fire Prevention Team. (3770) Lt. Mike Ivie opens a giant pack of matches to reveal “matchheads,” each with a safety message ultimately about not playing with matches or lighters. (3794) Team Member Lt. Mike Polley talks to students after the show.


Register for our Birthday/Anniversary Club!!