1. #1
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    Default Fire Prevention with a twist...Zephyrhills Florida

    Fire station heralds birthday
    A new fire prevention program makes a girl's birthday unforgettable. With sirens blasting, she rides in a firetruck.
    By MICHELLE JONES, Times Staff Writer
    St. Petersburg Times
    published August 12, 2002


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    ZEPHYRHILLS -- To kick off their fire prevention program, the members of the Zephyrhills Fire Department treated Myra Ziegler to a birthday party Saturday afternoon.

    Myra and eight friends were treated to cake, ice cream, party favors inside the station and an opportunity to squirt the fire hose and dunk Explorer Chris Stone in the dunk tank outside.

    Nine-year-old Myra thought the whole thing was cool, especially the ride in the firetruck.

    Myra and her grandmother, Linda Ziegler, were able to ride around the block, with the firetruck's sirens blasting, and Myra got the chance to talk on the radio.

    "Engine 7, out of service, special detail," she said.

    This first party of the fire prevention program was special because of the involvement of the Big Brothers Big Sisters program of Pasco County.

    Myra is one of the children in the program who is in need of a Big Sister.

    "We adopted Myra when she was 3," said Linda Ziegler. "We live out in Crystal Springs, where there are no other children nearby."

    Because Mrs. Ziegler suffers from lupus, an illness that saps her energy, her husband, George, had to change jobs to help take care of Myra.

    "We heard about the program through Missy Strozewski (a Big Sister) and signed up," said Mrs. Ziegler. "We've been waiting for a Big Sister for a month."

    A Big Sister would be able to take Myra places where she could meet other children.

    The birthday program was set up as a fun way to educate families about fire prevention. One child's party will be held each month. To be eligible for a party, family members have to read and fill out a packet that can be picked up at the fire station at 6907 Dairy Road in Zephyrhills. Inside the packet is a home hazard hunt chart, a home fire escape plan, home fire drills and other useful information on fire prevention.

    When the packet is returned to the fire station, the child's name will be placed in a hat for the drawing.

    Myra already knew one of the main things about fire prevention: the stop, drop and roll rule.

    "If I catch on fire, I stop, drop to the ground and roll to put it out," she said.

    Everything at the party had a Fire Department theme to it, including a special birthday cake from Creative Touch bakery in Zephyrhills. The cookies-and-cream cake had a Dalmatian dog decoration and "Happy 9th Myra" written on the icing.

    Surrounded by her school and church friends, Myra sat at the table inside the station.

    She wore a red plastic fire hat, signed by all firefighters.

    Fire Chief Robert Hartwig said he is pleased with the program, which fire Capt. Kerry Barnett is heading.

    "I think it is good for the kids to be able to visit here (the fire station) and see what we are all about," he said.

    Chris Stone, 17 and a senior at Zephyrhills High School, is learning at the station by cleaning up, getting soaked in the dunk tank and even going out on calls with the firefighters.

    "I want to make this a career," he said.

    When the party was over, each of the children received a goody bag from the firefighters. Myra's parents received car bumper stickers that state: "My Child Had a Birthday Party at the Zephyrhills Fire Department."

    To volunteer to become a Big Brother or Big Sister, call (727) 372-1458.

    -- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (800) 333-7505 ext. 4612 or (813) 909-4612. Her e-mail address is jones@sptimes.com.
    09-11 .. 343 "All Gave Some..Some Gave ALL" God Bless..R.I.P.
    ------------------------------
    IACOJ Minister of Southern Comfort
    "Purple Hydrant" Recipient (3 Times)
    BMI Investigator
    ------------------------------
    The comments, opinions, and positions expressed here are mine. They are expressed respectfully, in the spirit of safety and progress. They do not reflect the opinions or positions of my employer or my department.

  2. #2
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    Cap. Another outstanding example of why people hold the fire service in such regard and another excellent way of the service being involved in the community.
    United Kingdom branch, IACOJ.

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