Laughter filled the air when Sparky, a 7-foot-tall Dalmatian mascot dressed up in a firefighter coat, rolled around the ground to demonstrate how to “Stop, Drop and Roll.”
He and a couple other Presto volunteer firefighters spent Thursday afternoon teaching students at Chartiers Valley Primary School fire safety and what to do in an emergency.
“These guys are absolutely awesome,” second grade teacher Gretchen Wentz said about the firefighters. “They go out of their way to come up here to help us (teach).”
Several classes came out to the school’s parking lot to gawk at Presto’s ladder truck, play with Sparky and ask questions to Smokey The Bear while he rode around in a miniature fire truck. The kids had learned a little bit about fire safety in their classes, so this was an opportunity to ask and answer questions to real firefighters.
Presto fire Chief Dan Wauthier talked to kids about the importance of changing batteries in a smoke alarm, having a family escape plan and even making sure to use a carbon monoxide detector.
“This is a blast,” Wauthier said after the demonstration. “You can’t get too in depth, but with (Smokey) The Bear and Sparky, you can bring it down to their level.”
The kids asked serious and silly questions as they interacted with the chief and characters. They wanted to know how firefighters get to a call and if it’s fun fighting fires.
“It’s fun to be in the fire department with the other firefighters,” Wauthier answered, “but it’s not fun fighting fires.”
Smokey The Bear coolly added: “We work up a sweat.”
Wentz added that it’s important for the children to meet the firefighters in person so they’re not afraid in case of an emergency.
“They come here and can see the truck and see Chief Dan,” Wentz said. “That’s reassuring to them.”
The national Fire Safety & Prevention Week began on Saturday.