Weatherford Democrat

Local News

November 16, 2012

Weatherford's fire prevention program takes off

WEATHERFORD — The Weatherford Fire Department’s fire clowns have become quite the hit.

The number of schools they are visiting is growing and the group’s goal is to reach by next fall nearly every 1st through 3rd grade student in Parker County with their annual safety fire message.

Using songs, jokes, makeup and costumes, the clowns taught about 3,300 students from all Weatherford ISD elementary schools, Victory Baptist Academy, Weatherford Christian School, Brock Elementary School and a homeschool association during a two week period last month, up from about 2,300 reached last fall.

Though they do give fire prevention presentations at nursing homes and schools, the fire clowns are easily the department’s largest community education program, according to Weatherford Fire Marshal Bob Hopkins.

During the 20-minute skit performed for young elementary students, the fire-themed clowns teach topics such as Stop, Drop and Roll and Get Out, Stay Out.

“It’s so energizing,” Weatherford Fire Marshal Bob Hopkins said. “The kids learn from it. They learn from having fun.”

The local version of the fire prevention program that is popular across the nation is something Hopkins said he and others have wanted to implement for some time.

“Prevention works,” Hopkins said. “When you get them young, teach them young how to be safe, they carry it into adulthood.”

But it’s not just the students they are hoping to reach. It’s the whole family.

“The thing is kids, once they learn fire safety, they take it home,” Hopkins said. “They won’t leave their parents alone. They have fresh minds and a lot of energy.”

Children will go home and tell their parents that the clowns said they need to change the battery in the smoke detector, Hopkins said.

Hopkins said he’s had parents approach him on the street, telling him they know all about the fire clowns from their children.

It’s not just fire safety they hope to teach children, either. At some point in the future, they might teach safety around the house or not to talk to strangers, Hopkins said. Their goal is to help students become aware that everyone has to be responsible for safety,

They are currently working with the Parker County fire marshal to try to take the program to all the elementary schools in the county and hope to engage twice the number of children as they did this year, Hopkins said.

The fire clown program is a collaborative effort between Weatherford Fire Department employees and administration staff, who get together months in advance to begin writing a new skit script, creating costumes, building props and practicing the timing-crucial humor. The group doesn’t just consist of the clowns but includes people like firefighter Mike Rudd and Chaplain Gene Smithwick, who wrote the script, and firefighter Matthew McKittrick and Deputy Fire Marshal Dee Sosebee, who run sound during the performance.

Aside from those with the fire department who volunteer their time for the project and spend their own money to create props, others in the community are instrumental in bringing the program to children, according to Hopkins.

Craig Swancy has donated the use of a sound system, including cordless head mics, a significant cost, Hopkins said.

Kimberly McClintock, with the Weatherford Agrilife Extension 4-H office, will also be helping them with scheduling, he added.

Area residents can help support the program by donating to the Weatherford Fire Department fire prevention program or just to the department, Hopkins said.

Text Only
Local News
  • Dept. of State Health Services releases Aug. schedules

    Texas Department of State Health Services immunization clinics for August:

    July 24, 2014

  • 0723 loc WC upward bound.jpg Traveling the path to success

    Several factors aligned to set Louriann Villa on the path to success including a mother she considers a hero, the Weatherford College Upward Bound program and scholarship funds.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • Weatherford DAR to host summer workshop

    Weatherford Chapter-DAR will be hosting the District II summer workshop with 94 members from across North Texas attending on Saturday, July 26, from 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. at North Side Baptist Church.

    July 23, 2014

  • Painting with a Twist/Painting with a Purpose

    Looking for a fun night out? Join us for the Parker Paws Painting with a Purpose fundraiser from 7-9 p.m. 

    July 20, 2014

  • DAILY RECORD: Marriages and deaths

    Marriages and deaths recorded from July 9, 2014, to July 15, 2014. This information is being provided as a courtesy by the Parker County Clerk. Every effort is made to see that the information is correct and complete. The Parker County Clerk is not responsible should there be an error within the information provided.

    July 19, 2014

  • Master Gardener training orientation dates set

    The Parker County office of Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service will be offering a Master Gardener Intern Training Course this fall. 

    July 19, 2014

  • Soulis named to Dean’s List at Washington University

    ST. LOUIS — Johnathon Taylor Soulis, of Weatherford, was named to the Dean’s List for the spring 2014 semester at Washington University in St. Louis. Soulis is enrolled in the university’s School of Engineering and Applied Science.

    July 19, 2014

  • CASA - Hope for Children unveils new website, videos

    CASA-Hope for Children has always been able to help 100% of the neglected and abused children taken into the foster care system, but because of the overwhelming number of children that have been taken into the system that may not be the reality much longer. 

    July 18, 2014

  • Driver speed, seatbelt compliance surveys show improvements

    The Weatherford Police Department utilized grant funding from the Texas Department of Transportation to fund overtime salaries for extra enforcement during the week of the Fourth of July. The extra patrols worked to ensure drivers were complying with posted speed limits, wearing seatbelts and were not driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol in an effort to keep our local roadways safe.

    July 18, 2014

  • Sheila Gerrald CASA announces Advocate of the Quarter

    CASA Hope for Children volunteer Sheila Gerrald has been chosen as Advocate of the Quarter for the Second Quarter of 2014. 

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo