CARMEL, Ind. (WISH) — A central Indiana fire department is welcoming new members to the team.
They are not typical firefighters, they’re called Sparky’s Helpers and their focus is to teach fire safety to kids. Sparky the fire dog has been teaching fire safety since the 1950s, but nowadays Carmel firefighters say his schedule is just too much, so they’re partnering with Koorsen Fire & Security and The Kasey Program.
Lead by retired firefighter Jeff Owens, he and his black labs Kasey and Kali are making learning fire safety a fun interactive experience for kids in Carmel Elementary schools.
The dogs demonstrate for kids how to stop, drop and roll. They can also show them how to crawl below the smoke and check a door to see if it’s hot.
Plus, Owens talks to the students about making sure they have two exits from every space, a meeting spot outside the house and what to do if they find lighters or matches in their home.
“The combination of the dogs and Jeff talking fire safety, and the dogs demonstrating those fire safety things and then even incorporating music into it, the kids really engage and learn and it’s amazing,” Tim Griffin, public information officer with the Carmel Fire Department, said.
Owens started the Kasey program in 1995. Since then the original Kasey has died and the program has been carried on by other dogs, including KD, Kali and Kohl. The program, which reaches 400, 000 kids annually, lasts between 20 and 45 minutes, depending on the ages of the kids.
The Carmel Fire Department is also expanding the program to recognize kids. At each school the department visits, two children are recognized for being leaders who display kindness even when grown-ups aren’t watching. Those students are brought up during the program and award the dogs their gold K-9 badges and they are given a plaque from the fire department to keep.