By Ed Brock
Bounding out of the Forest Park Fire Department mobile fire safety theater, 4-year-old Pierce Franklin of Jonesboro announces that they have a smoke alarm inside.
Jordan Franklin, 11, was equally impressed by the unit that was on display at Saturday's Sensational Saturday at the Beach event.
"I liked going down the stairs backward because I think that was the most challenging," Jordan said.
The mother of the two children, Wanda Franklin, said they both love firefighters and their father often takes them to tour fire stations.
"They go any time they can talk him into it," Franklin said.
Forest Park, Morrow and Clayton County fire departments were at Sensational Saturday to mark the beginning of Fire Prevention Week 2003 that is sponsored by the National Fire Protection Association. Around 100 children had passed through the Forest Park display during the course of the day, fire Capt. Mike Bartlett said.
"We've been steady. We've kept groups going through back to back for the last two or three hours," Bartlett said.
During the week Bartlett's department will be holding fire education classes at all of the elementary schools in the city as well as some at pre-schools and daycare centers. The department and the city's Triad group that brings seniors together with public safety officials will have a fire extinguisher giveaway with classes on using the extinguisher.
And on Oct. 18 and 19 they will hold another fire safety event at Starr Park on Forest Parkway next to Forest Park City Hall.
"(Fire Prevention Week) actually commemorates the Great Chicago Fire," Bartlett said.
In 1871 that fire killed more than 250 people, left 100,000 homeless, destroyed more than 17,400 structures and burned more than 2,000 acres according to the NFPA Web site.
On the 40th anniversary of the fire the International Fire Marshals Association (then called the Fire Marshals Association of North America) decided the anniversary should be marked in a way that keeps the public informed on fire prevention. In 1920 President Woodrow Wilson first declared Oct. 9 as National Fire Prevention Day and since 1922 Fire Prevention Week has been celebrated during the week in which Oct. 9 falls.
The theme for this year is "When Fire Strikes: Get Out! Stay Out!"
Also on Saturday the Clayton County Fire Department had a separate event to kick off the week that was held at Allan Vigil Ford in Morrow during which they unveiled their own fire safety education vehicle. The department will take a slightly different approach to the week this year, Fire Safety Educator Billy Rice said.
"We're going to be in some schools but our main focus this year is businesses," Rice said.
Today from 6 p.m. there will be an open house at the department's new Station No. 12 on Mundy's Mill Road and firefighters from the department will also go to River's Edge Elementary School.
On Wednesday they will have an event at the Buffalo's Caf? on Ga. Highway 138 in Stockbridge at 11 a.m. followed by a demonstration at the Home Depot on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow at 1:30 p.m.
Thursday at 1:30 p.m. the firefighters will be at the Lowe's on Mt. Zion Road in Stockbridge. On Friday they will be at the Publix on Mt. Zion Road in Morrow at 9 a.m., the Buffalo's Caf? on North Avenue in Jonesboro at 11 a.m. and the Sam's Wholesale Club on Jonesboro Road at 1:30 p.m.
Morrow Fire Department also has planned several visits to its local elementary schools and station tours by two daycare centers, Capt. Donald Harry said.
"We do it all month," Harry said.
Riverdale Fire Department will hold fire education clown/puppet shows at Church Street Elementary School and daycare centers on Tuesday and another show at Riverdale Elementary School on Wednesday.