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Fire safety event focus

Angel Ford of teacher Lavetta Lee’s second-grade class at Magnolia Elementary School holds up the winning poster at the Albany Fire Department’s Kid’s Fire Safety program Wednesday in the Albany Civic Center.

Angel Ford of teacher Lavetta Lee’s second-grade class at Magnolia Elementary School holds up the winning poster at the Albany Fire Department’s Kid’s Fire Safety program Wednesday in the Albany Civic Center.

ALBANY — The squeals, cheers and rallying cries pierced the air as more than 4,000 excited children enjoyed clowns, music and superheroes fighting fire-starting villains Wednesday.

It was all part of the 17th annual Kids Fire Safety Day, put on for school children by the Albany Fire Department’s firefighters and the Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany staff at the Albany Civic Center.

After an introduction by Sebon Burns, chief of fire prevention, the Civic Center became a circus illustrating fire prevention.

“Y’all ready to have a good time?” Burns asked. “Today we are going to have a fun time and learn about fire safety.”

A poster-coloring contest was a new addition to the program this year. The winning poster was submitted by teacher Lavetta Lee’s second-graders at Magnolia Elementary School.

Teachers from the many schools attending the event were called up to dance at center stage, a preparation for them to illustrate the stop, drop and roll routine of putting out clothing on fire.

Firefighters dressed in wacky clown outfits mingled with the children when they were not busy illustrating fire safety.

To illustrate the 911 system, clowns were told the correct way to dial and the reasons to not dial such as just for fun or for information. When the leader of the skit showed the wrong use of a 911 call, the kids were encouraged to yell, “Hey, hey, hey, wrong way!”

After hearing about the proper placement of smoke detectors in homes, a clown tried to do it the wrong way. He was met with a resounding, “Hey, hey, wrong way!”

There were also the superheroes — Super Chief, Fire Extinguisher Girl, Smoke Detector and Waterboy — who chased down the evil fire-starting villains.

The villains — Flame, Scortch, Smoke and Matchboy — tried to start fires to a chorus of boos but were caught in the acts and brought to justice by the superhero Fire Prevention League to cheers.

The last act brought out a birthday cake for Sparky the fire dog mascot. The entire civic center sang “Happy Birthday” to the 60-year-old Dalmatian.

At the end of the program, children mingled, danced and hugged superheroes, clowns, firefighters, mascots and even villains. One clown explained why he volunteered to, well, clown around and bring life to a fire safety program.

“This is what we do the job for, to help people and kids,” said Jason Hancock, a firetruck driver with the Albany Fire Department moonlighting as a big-footed, spiky-haired clown.

“This is my first year. Who knows, maybe next year I’ll move up to be a character.”