TORONTO The city fire department is seeking donations from local individuals and businesses to fund its annual child fire safety program at Karaffa Elementary School.
Frank McEwen, city fire chief, said donations are down from last year, and he is asking businesses and individuals to step up to help fund the program that teaches youngsters basic skills about coping with fires.
"These are the funds we raise annually for our Fire Prevention Program at Karaffa Elementary School for grades pre-kindergarten through fifth grade," said McEwen, adding the department began fundraising efforts in November. "We need to have all the funds raised by the end of February."
McEwen said all businesses in Toronto received letters from the National Fire Safety Council soliciting funds for the program.
"(The solicitation) is generally directed toward the businesses, and private individuals can make donations in any dollar amount they wish," he said.
"The letter spells out the dollar amounts for each pupil in the school system," continued the chief, adding funds donated go toward the purchase of fire prevention materials and a fire safety educator from the safety council.
"For the last three years we raised enough funds to bring in the NFSC's children's educator," said McEwen, adding the program enabled the department to hire Cowboy Bob, Kenny the Singing Cowboy and Kerry Kazam, the Fire Safety Man to help demonstrate what children should do in case of a house fire.
"It's a total home fire safety education program," said McEwen. "It basically teaches them 'learn not to burn.' We send two members of the department along with fire trucks. They assist in teaching the safety education."
Educational materials given to pupils include coloring books, stickers and how to design a home fire safety escape plan, said the chief.
"We also have our firefighters put on all their gear, airpacks and face masks to show children what they would look like if they enter (the scene of a fire)," McEwen added.
To make a donation, checks can be made out to the National Fire Safety Council and sent to the Toronto Fire Department, 602 S. Fourth St., Toronto, OH 43964.
For information, call (740) 537-1021.