City uses fire truck to teach fire prevention
By Ann Cantrell
It may only travel 15 miles per hour, but this miniature fire truck will hopefully make serious strides in fire prevention. The fire truck is a close representation of the actual fire trucks, with flashing lights, real axes on the back and a water hoses that, for right now, are not connected to any water pump.
It is about the same size as a small car and is one of the many ways that the department teaches about fire prevention. “The safest way to fight fire is to prevent it,” said Gene Porter, Madison fire marshal. On each side there is a slogan, from “Never Play with Matches” to “Crawl Low under Smoke.” Porter said that while this miniature fire truck will never actually participate in putting out a blaze, it will hopefully remind children of the importance of fire safety.
“A little kid sees this and he’ll relate to it better,” said Porter. He went on to say that educating children is crucial part of fire prevention because often children are better listeners than their parents.
He encourages children to bug their parents about having smoke detectors and changing the batteries frequently because adults are often complacent about safety. The fire truck was originally the idea of firefighter Randy Ross, who, after looking at similar miniature fire trucks on the internet, pushed Porter to build one of their own.
“Randy was the instigator," said Porter. "He bugged me enough to carry it to the city manager." In June 2007, they went about converting the military golf cart into the small replica of a fire truck with the help of several donations from local businesses.
It cost about $2,500 to renovate the vehicle and was financed entirely by the businesses.
Jon Owens, of Classic Collision, did all of the body paint and work after the fire department donated the materials.
In November 2007, the miniature fire truck debuted at Bostwick's Cotton Gin Festival. It will be used again at a Cub Scout event on February 25.
Porter hopes that in the future they will be able to take the vehicle to schools and use it for fire safety. They are also working on using some of their leftover donation money to install shelves that can hold brochures on fire prevention and even a television on the sides of the vehicle. This fire truck is just one of the many efforts to educate people about fire prevention.
The department also has a fire safety house which stimulates actual fires, tornados and severe storms. The department uses a soap-based smoke to teach children to keep their heads down when evacuating a house. Ross is also a certified fire safety clown, complete with clown costume and tiny bike, which he uses to relate to children and inform them about the importance of fire prevention.