Fired Up About Reading

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By Liz Premo, Atlantic News Staff Writer

Atlantic News, Friday, August 17, 2007

[The following article is courtesy of Atlantic News]

HAMPTON -- Curious George had nothing to do with it.

A real-life fire alarm and ambulance call enhanced a visit by local youngsters to Hampton’s uptown fire station last Wednesday morning while they were busy checking out the department’s No. 2 engine.

The children, who had just heard “Curious George at the Fire Station” during a Story Time session at the Lane Memorial Library, stepped back and watched in awestruck fascination as emergency personnel quickly yet calmly boarded the fire truck and set off, lights flashing and siren blaring.

The sudden departure of their shiny red show-and-tell object did not present a problem, however. The group, under the guidance of Fire Inspector Jeffrey LeDuc, simply turned their attention to the town’s ladder truck and an ambulance still parked in the station.

LeDuc, who served as the official “tour guide,” had been the guest reader at the library that morning. The story he read told the tale of how the “curious little monkey” from the beloved series of children’s books had set off a false alarm which ultimately (and luckily) led to the rescue of a Dalmatian puppy.

With that story fresh in their minds, the children, accompanied by Children’s Librarian, Paulina Shadowens and a number of parents, walked over to the fire station for their tour. Shortly after their arrival and prior to Engine 2 being called out, the children took turns climbing up into the apparatus and taking a seat for photo-snapping purposes.

While they were viewing the ambulance, LeDuc showed them one of the stuffed animals — a fuzzy blue Beanie Baby Teddy bear — kept in the vehicle to be used as a comforting device for a child in an emergency situation.

LeDuc told the group about how he still has such a stuffed animal that was given to him when he was a child in the 1970s, during an emergency involving an older relative. The toy, a German Shepherd, still sits on his dresser.

In addition to getting a close-up view of the fire apparatus and having their questions answered, they were given toy fire helmets, stickers, pencils, and a chance to see LeDuc slide down the fire pole. The fire inspector received an appreciative round of applause by both the Story Time kids and participants in the FUN program, who also dropped in for the tour.

The visit to the fire station is just one of the many ways the town’s firefighting personnel make connections with the community. In addition to making annual visits to schools and Senior Citizen housing during Fire Prevention Month, Hampton Firefighters provide various services and take part in a number of community events, such as the annual Seacoast Area Firefighters Toy Bank, the recent Summer Fest spaghetti dinner and programs coordinated by the Professional Firefighters of Hampton IAFF Local 2664.

These programs include the annual Strawberry Festival for Seniors, Community Blood Pressure Clinics and Medical Information Cards; Senior Bingo; IAFF Burn Foundation and MDA Toll Boots; Chowdah Challenge to Benefit the IAFF Burn Foundation; annual Chili Cook Off; Professional Firefighters of Hampton Ad Book, Rides to the Polls and other community-focused programs.

For more information about the Professional Firefighters of Hampton IAFF Local 2664, or any of the programs listed here visit www.hampton firefighters.org or e-mail jsquires@ hampton firefighters.org.

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