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Fire Safety Jamboree Lights Up Young Faces

Oct. 11, 2007 — A sea of smiling young faces topped with bright red plastic firefighter helmets filled the shady bleachers of the Randall "Doc" James Racetrack on St. Croix Thursday for a fire safety jamboree.
Beneath the helmets, hundreds of elementary school students sat in school-color coded clusters excitedly watched the show while fire and rescue professionals mixed music and the antics of Smokey the Bear, Crash Test Dummies Vince and Larry, Dora the Explorer and local character Tommy the Starfish with potentially lifesaving fire safety education.
Gregory Williams, a St. Croix deputy inspector, commanded the microphone for part of the show.
“Is St. Mary’s here?” Williams asked, his voice booming over the racetrack’s loudspeakers.
A deafening chorus of elementary school voices shouted back.
“What is the emergency connect number for your cell phone?” Williams asked the throng of little people. “It’s 772-9111. Now say it back to me.”
The crowd chanted the number back.
“What is the number again?” he asked again, getting a louder chorus the second time.
Keith Francois and Antonio Stevens of St. Croix Rescue did a rappelling demonstration, one sliding down a rope from the track roof while the other belayed from below. Emergency Medical Technician Jaqueline Phillip, firefighters Arthur Canaii Jr., Judith Figueroa and Anya Jacobs demonstrated cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a dummy while Liz Goggins of St. Croix Rescue explained to the kids what was happening.
Soon after, Dora the Explorer and Sponge Bob Square Pants came out to join the gang of costumed characters, and a song all the kids knew came from the speakers.
“Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?” the singing voice asked.
“Sponge Bob Square Pants!” the crowd sang back.
“Absorbent and yellow and porous is he,” the voice sang.
“Sponge Bob Square Pants!” the students rejoined.
A makeshift shed was lit afire and as it began to smoke, firefighters Keno Walter and John Bermudez donned breathing apparatus, broke into the shed with a fire axe and “rescued” a dummy. At the shed burst into flames, Walter and Bermudez trained their water hoses to the blaze, shortly turning the hot orange blaze to a smoky plume and then to a sodden, steaming ruin.
Police Sgt. Cecile Gumbs and Officer Anderson Poleon were joined by Yasko the German shepherd for a K9 demonstration. Poleon played the suspect. Yasko quickly latched onto Poleon’s padded arm protector and wouldn’t let go.
The kids seemed to have a good time.
“I liked the animals and singing “Who let the Dogs Out,” Emani Simon, a student at Pearl B. Larsen said.
“Stop, drop and roll,” Larsen student Spencer Hendrickson said, when asked what he learned that day.
The jamboree was part of Fire Prevention Week activities on St. Croix. (See "Fire Prevention Week Kicks Off Sunday.")
On the 40th anniversary of the 1871 Great Chicago Fire, the Fire Marshals Association of North America sponsored the first National Fire Prevention Day to stress its importance to the public. It became Fire Prevention Week in 1922.
The week will wrap up with a fire service fun day at Renaissance Park in Estate Anguilla starting at 11 a.m. Saturday. There will be relay races, bucket brigades and firefighters’ olympics, The firefighters will compete in a dummy dragging race, running obstacle courses and racing to put on firefighting gear.
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