The City of Natchitoches Fire Department was recently awarded a grant from the Union Pacific Foundation in the amount of $25,000.
Through a partnership with the Cane River National Heritage Area, the local fire department applied to the Union Pacific Foundation with an emphasis on public safety through education on parish wide fire prevention and safety. The objective, if funded, was to purchase research-based and effective training tools to ensure community risk reduction for parish citizens, specifically children in daycares, kindergarten to college students, and senior citizens.
With the grant proceeds, Chief of Fire Prevention Kory Leo was able to purchase a new costume for mascot Sparky the Fire Dog, an interactive Sparky Robot, and a Hazard House. Although, Sparky the Fire Dog has been around for many years, this character remains effective when bridging the apprehension some children have toward people in uniform, noted Leo.
Leo continued, in the event of an emergency, children will relate Sparky to the firefighters and be less fearful of them. The Sparky robot is child size and uses a robot voice modifier as the firefighters talk and interact with students on protecting themselves and their families from fire.
The final component, the Hazard House, is an electronic module imitating a house with a family and provides a more realistic example with visual aids on how to respond with proper safety procedures in an emergency.
The Fire Department has had much success utilizing these tools during school visits amongst the city and parish, while also attending community events which include: Witch Way to Main Street, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, the Natchitoches Parish Fair, and most recently the Home and Garden Expo.
Leo stated, “The purchase of these tools and resources for the City of Natchitoches has been a game changer not only for our department, but how we are able to reach the community effectively in our fire prevention efforts.”
The Natchitoches Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Program directly correlates with Union Pacific’s mission to build safe, prosperous and vibrant communities.