Spreading the message of fire prevention and safety has become easier for the Waxahachie Fire Department.

The department has been awarded a grant in the amount of  $14,805 from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help expand its fire prevention educational clowning program. The department’s matching portion to the grant is $1,645.

“The clowning program starts up Oct. 1 and we have already hit the ground running. Our firefighter clowns have already started the process of preparing, scheduling and getting ready for the upcoming fire prevention month,” battalion chief John Rodgers said.

“The biggest impact that this grant is going to have is that we were borrowing a trailer before where we had to take equipment out and put our equipment in. Now, we will have our own trailer where we will not have to do that. All the stuff will be there and it will be in there when we need it,” he said.

The grant will pay $5,000 for a trailer, $1,650 for microphones and sound equipment, $5,000 for construction materials to build a set and $500 for puppet props. The clowning program goes to both public and private schools each year to teach students in prekindergarten through fifth grade.

Lessons are taught about how to properly evacuate a house if it catches on fire, the importance of checking the batteries in smoke alarms twice a year and how to check a door if it is hot. The clowns also teach students about life lessons such as the importance of not being a bully. 

Rodgers said the program changes every year to keep the lessons fresh and engaging for students.

“When the students see the same program year after year you will lose them if you don’t keep it fresh. The whole point of the clown program is to make the message interesting and effective but yet keep it to where they can understand it,” he said. “I play a small role in this and I was happy to help with the grant because the guys needed the stuff. The biggest credit goes to the firefighters who volunteer their time to go out and do this. They are the ones that really go out and make it happen.”

For more information about the Waxahachie Fire Department’s clowning program, contact Rodgers at the station at 972-937-1200. The central fire station is located at 407 Water St.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.