Fun way to learn fire safety

Published 3:37 am Saturday, October 2, 2004

By By SPIROS GALLOS / Niles Daily Star
NILES - Children visiting the Apple Festival are getting a lesson in fire safety in a fun and unique way.
The Niles City and Township fire departments are offering a preview of their public safety education program, which they take to area schools twice a year.
The 40 minute shows teach kids about fire safety, bicycle safety, the dangers of drugs, and dealing with strangers.
Capt. Don Wise, of the Niles City Fire Department, who plays Murph in the "Murph and Poky Show," said the programs focuses on teaching children the stop-drop-and roll technique and Exit Drills In The Home, or EDITH for short.
The EDITH program is designed to teach children what to do in case of a fire. Wise said children learn how to identify primary exits in their home, so when a smoke alarm goes off, the children are prepared and able to safely exit a burning building.
Children also learn to set special meeting places with their families once they are out of the building. Wise said the special meeting place is one of the most important lessons taught because it helps the fire fighters when they arrive on the scene.
Lt. Jack Frost, also of the Niles City Fire Department, completes the pair as Poky. Together, Frost and Wise tour the schools in the spring as part of the public safety education program.
In the fall, Lt. Dan Tackett of the Niles City Fire Department, teams up with Niles Township Fire Department fire fighter Doug Myers, who lends his voice and hand to the puppet "Flicker," to tour the schools with "Flash," a miniature fire truck.
Although "Flash" cost about $20,000 to make, Wise said generous donations from a team of over 20 organizations cut the cost to the city to $200.
All the fire fighters involved in the shows at the Apple Festival are volunteering their time this weekend, Wise said.
Wise also mentioned that without the support of numerous sponsors, these programs would not even exist.
Wal-Mart recently donated $2,500 to the departments, which they used to purchase the fireman helmets they're handing out to all the children who attend the show this weekend.
The shows run at the Niles City and Township Fire Departments tent at the Apple Festival Saturday after the parade to close, and Sunday from 1 p.m. to close.