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    Default Fire Prevention, Kids, Dennis Leary, & Hockey...

    Friday, September 12, 2003

    Fire safety in numbers

    Celebrity lends a hand as pupils get lessons

    Martin Luttrell
    TELEGRAM & GAZETTE STAFF



    Worcester Fire Lt. Richard W. Halvorsen and Denis Leary give Burncoat Elementary School pupils a fire safety quiz at the Grove Street fire station in Worcester Thursday.
    (T&G Staff / PAUL KAPTEYN)
    Enlarge photo


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    WORCESTER- They didn't understand all his jokes. Heck, most of them didn't even know who he was. But the Burncoat Elementary School pupils had fun during yesterday's talk with comedian and television/film star Denis Leary, who held an informal fire safety quiz at the Grove Street station.

    The appearance of Mr. Leary, a Worcester native, coincided with the 10th annual Fire Safety Day, in which kindergarten and first-grade classes visit the station to talk with firefighters and see the equipment they use.

    Mr. Leary, who was in town for the day from his New York City home, used the opportunity to talk about the Sept. 28 Celebrity Hat Trick hockey fund-raiser at the FleetCenter in Boston. The game will benefit the Leary Firefighters Foundation, which has provided more than $1 million to the Worcester department for equipment and a training facility.

    During yesterday's program, Mr. Leary chatted with the children after firefighters served them pizza from Papa Gino's, which has sponsored 10 annual fire safety open houses at the station.

    One kindergarten boy reached out with his left hand and grabbed Mr. Leary's right hand, looked up and smiled silently. Mr. Leary chuckled and shook his head, imagining what the kids were thinking.

    "Free pizza, and I'm not in school, that's all I know," he said.

    During a fire safety quiz he tested the kids' knowledge, getting several shouted responses to each question.

    "What do you do if your house is on fire?" he asked the group.

    "Crawl under the smoke," shouted Cole Duverger, a 6-year-old in Kim Pizzarella's first-grade class. His correct response was met with applause from the children, firefighters and Mr. Leary.

    A few minutes later the boy was asked who Mr. Leary was.

    "I don't know," he said. "I think he's on TV."

    Chief Gerard A. Dio said fire safety personnel visit each school four times a year to give safety instruction, along with "Pluggie," the remote-controlled yellow fire hydrant robot who speaks with the kids.

    "This is the age where we have the most fire deaths, the young and the very old," he said.

    "As they age, their lessons get more complex," he said of the fire safety instruction they receive. "At this age, it's more entertainment, but over time it gets ingrained in them."

    Mr. Leary launched The Leary Firefighters Foundation after the December 1999 fire at the Worcester Cold Storage and Warehouse Co. building, which killed six firefighters, including his cousin, Jeremiah M. Lucey.

    Tickets for the hockey game are $25 and $50, and are available through Ticketmaster at (617) 931-2000 or online at www.ticketmaster.com. For more information visit www.learyfirefighters.org.


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    I *might* finally get to the hattrick this year...gonna try and swap the last day of my EMT refresher with another class so I have that day free!

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