ALBANY, Ga. -- With the largest fire safety show in Georgia, firefighters plan to educate children on fire prevention and what to do in case of a fire, said Albany Fire Department officials.
"The sound of a smoke alarm is a sound that you can live with," said fire Inspector Gwen Jennings. "We are working to motivate people to actively determine whether they have proper smoke alarm throughout their home."
Motivating children and parents is the goal of the 16th annual Kids Fire Safety Day on Tuesday at the Albany Civic Center. Doors open at 9:30 a.m. and close at 11 a.m. As of Friday, 4,100 students and teachers had signed up for the safety day from schools across the area.
With clowns performing skits and gift bags with surprise goodies, the event is sure to attract many more. The clowns will take part in skits that emphasize fire-safety rules for children such as staying away from lighters and matches. They'll also dramatize escaping from a house that could be on fire.
"The clowns will make the kids laugh," said Johnnie Hicks-Johnson, fire inspector. "But they'll also show them how to get out of a house safe."
Home fire safety should include having smoke detectors in every room of the house except the bathroom. There should be one just outside the bathroom door so it doesn't get set off by temperature or steam, Jennings said.
"It is essential that parents and children have fire drills at home," Jennings said. "They have them at school, but people should do them at home, too."
Although the Albany Fire Department has been putting on the free Kids Fire Safety Day with volunteers for the past 15 years, it follows a longer tradition, said Deputy Fire Chief Ron Rowe.
"It all goes back to Chief Dennis Brosnan, who was chief from 1911 to 1951," Rowe said. "There was a competition between cities like Atlanta, Macon and Albany to be named a fire-safe city."
Apparently, Albany won so many years in a row that Brosnan withdrew the city from competition to allow other cities a chance. Fire Station No. 1 at 320 N. Jackson St. has many plaques dating back past 1933 proclaiming the Albany Fire Department "Best Accomplished for Fire Prevention" to prove it.
"We carry on that tradition of fire safety," Rowe said. "It was Brosnan's vision and we want to keep everyone safe."