The Cedar Park Fire Department’s HEATS Team (Helping Educate About Today’s Safety) have been teaching elementary students about fire safety via some “super” songs and dance.
As a part of Fire Prevention Week, the HEATS Team performed an original superhero-themed show for kindergarten through 3rd graders during the week of Oct. 8 through 14. The team visited all 12 elementary schools located in Cedar Park in October to educate students on fire and vehicle safety. This year was their 14th year of doing shows, with each one different from the last, said Fire Chief James Mallinger.
“We find that it’s a good way to get to the parents,” Mallinger said. “When you teach it to the kids and they come home and they tell them they need to do an EDITH drill, the parents might not know, but the kids can explain it to them. We use this as a tool for teaching entire families through the children.”
The firefighters and lieutenant of Eric Reesing, Frank Dean and Stefen Wilson come up with a different sketch every year. The sketch is centered around two superhero firefighters of Safety City, Tiller and Tank—who refer to themselves as “T.N.T.”—and Cadet Wilson as they try to keep up with Captain Mayhem’s safety-thwarting deeds.
During the sketch, the team covers several topics of safety and even includes song numbers where the team parodies popular songs with their own safety-related lyrics. For example, the performance of “Safety Street” parodied the melody of “Sesame Street.”
“The entire program from top to bottom is built by them, including the backdrop,” Mallinger said.
Safety topics covered in the event include the song “X the text”— meaning no texting while driving—pulling to the right when a safety vehicle is driving up behind, turning down music, wearing a seatbelt and keeping tabs on smoke alarm maintenance and avoiding high risk activities.
One of the main safety lessons included the EDITH drill, or “Exit Drills in the Home.” The drill acts as a fire exit plan, where the students were instructed on preparing a fire plan that included two ways out of their home, how to crawl low to avoid smoke, checking for heat at a door knob and remaining calm during the process.
“The biggest thing is being able to see the children’s faces and see that they’re learning something, they’re drawn to it,” said Battalion Chief Larry Mulrain, whose role during the sketches is soundman “Master Blaster”. “These guys love doing it and putting it on. They put on a great performance. We sometimes see these kids out in the public and they mention the things they learned during our performances. We know our messages are actually getting out.”