WARSAW — A new program began today, Friday, May 6, between Warsaw-Wayne Fire Territory and Warsaw Community Schools.
Firefighter Max Kinsey, public education officer, presented an overview of the program “Firefighter For The Day Program,” at the Warsaw-Wayne Township Fire Protection Territory Board Tuesday, May 3.
Kinsey stated firefighters currently work with kindergarten and pre-school students and do not see them again until high school. “Kids play with fire out of curiosity,” he stated, giving examples of a few dumpster fires set by children. This resulted in the creation of the Firefighter For The Day Program, a program similar to D.A.R.E. Working with school officials the program started at Madison School.
The program is for fifth and sixth grade students. Those wishing to participate are asked to write an essay. The essay for the 150 Madison students was: “…what it means to be a firefighter.” Two winners would be chosen based on the essays.
Kinsey explained winners will be picked up in a fire truck, be taken to the station, shown the equipment, have lunch with the crew and be taken to the training center where a maze has been created for them to experience some training. The winners will be wearing their own fire boots, helmet and turnout gear. The equipment was ordered to match the local department’s gear. Each will receive their own “Cadet” T-shirt. Only those chosen for the program will receive the shirts.
Kinsey said the department was not expecting a lot of essays, however they received approximately 130 entries. “We were surprised … It was phenomenal. We chose one girl, a sixth-grader and one boy, a fifth-grader.” Participation waivers were signed by the students’ parents.
“The hardest part was breaking the hearts of the other students,” said Kinsey. However, the firefighters discovered the other students where excited for those chosen, cheering and giving high fives.
“This is a way of giving back to the community, hopefully reaching students at a different level.”
Kinsey stated. The program is expected to move to Harrison School before the end of the school year. The program will begin at a different school in September.
Fire Chief Mike Wilson explained should there be a call, students will be taken in the fire marshall’s vehicle or chief’s vehicle to a scene. Keeping the students out of harm’s way, it will give them an opportunity to see the actions firefighters are taking.
During other business, an update on Station Three was presented by Wilson. The architects were asked to go back to the drawing board, particularly providing local cost estimates instead of Fort Wayne costs, and provide a functional facility that “is still nice, but fits the community.”
Funds to equip and staff the station will be included in the 2017 budget proposals.
“We need to be smart about what the community needs are,” stated Mayor Joe Thallemer. “We have the responsibility to the township to make it cost effective and the responsibility to the taxpayers … we need to do it the most cost effective way and decrease the response time.” It was noted the service of the department is changing to include medical response, for which there is no revenue generated.