Junior firefighters take trip to fire station

By Julie Clements
Butler County Times Gazette – May 6, 2014

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Fourth graders in El Dorado and Circle School districts have spent the last seven weeks learning about fire safety through the El Dorado Fire Department’s Junior Firefighter program.

As part of the program, the students take tests and earn ranks. The top students out of each class were treated to a trip to the El Dorado Fire Department in a fire truck, as well as pizza with the firefighters and a tour of the station on Thursday.

Bill Doan has been leading the Junior Firefighter program since 1992 when former Fire Chief Ralph Green asked him about holding a class after they had conducted a test project at Lincoln Elementary School in 1991. From that first year they learned they needed to have one person lead the class, rather than different firefighters each week.

After Doan retired from the fire department, former Fire Chief Ken Nakaten asked him to come back to continue teaching the class, which Doan did.

“He’s an incredible guy,” Fire Chief Steve Moody said of Doan. “He’s got this program so fine-tuned and you can tell he generally love doing it and loves the kids. He’s a pretty special guy.”

To date, Doan has presented the class to almost 6,000 students.

“When we started we had a slight problem with juvenile fire setters,” Doan said, explaining they found most of the youth to be fourth grade or older so they decided to offer this program to fourth graders.

“We still have the occasional one but nothing like before,” he said.

The program begins with an introduction on the first day, when students receive their books and take a test to see what their fire safety knowledge is. They take that same test at the end of the program to see how much they have learned. Each student in the program gets an award and a Fire Chief is named in each class.

The information the students receive is for the whole family and they are encouraged to take their homework home and share it.

“There’s always a huge improvement,” Doan said. “I feel it has been very beneficial.”

Gwen Romine, KSFFA Webmaster