Acting silly is just part of the job — literally. Most people would get in trouble for behaving like clowns at work, but Shawnee Fire Chief Dru Tischer's crew is lauded for it.
THE ISSUE: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that, though it is declining, many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable and continue to pose a significant public health problem.
LOCAL IMPACT: Shawnee firefighters for 25 year now have been bringing awareness to students in several area school districts, as well as the public, through a program they have created to entertain and educate participants with fire safety methods.
Acting silly is just part of the job — literally.
Most people would get in trouble for behaving like clowns at work, but Shawnee Fire Chief Dru Tischer's crew is lauded for it.
In its 25th year, Shawnee's fire clown program — headed by Lt. Richard Stevenson — will be making the rounds all week, teaching students and the community how to stay safe by providing fire and life safety education.
And these guys need every trick in the trade –– they play to a tough crowd. Not only does their audience have an inclination for wiggling, but it also gets easily distracted.
Enter several full-grown men sporting bright hair, exaggerated makeup and colorfully mismatched attire.
Donning boisterous voices in a delicate dance of chaos versus control, these professional clowns mesmerize each young group, hoping to leave a lasting memory of how to handle a potential crisis.
More than 1.3 million fires were reported by fire departments in 2016, resulting in an estimated 3,390 civilian deaths, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA).
But the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that thanks in part to successful fire injury prevention activities, such as smoke alarm installation and fire safety education, deaths and injuries caused by residential fires have declined over the past several decades.
“However, many residential fire-related deaths remain preventable and continue to pose a significant public health problem,” it states on its website, at cdc.org.
That's why these red-nosed heroes continue year after year to push fire safety.
Through the program the fire clowns –– with the help of their Fire Dog, Sparky –– teach local children fire and life safety topics like, Stop, Drop and Roll, 911 and the importance of staying calm during an emergency.
“They continue to provide an incredibly valuable and unique service to the community while representing our department and the City of Shawnee in a great way,” Tischer said. “I can’t tell you how proud and appreciative I am of the job they do every year.”
The clowns are scheduled to perform all week at a number of area schools in Shawnee, as well as Dale, McLoud, White Rock, North Rock Creek, Grove, Pleasant Grove, Tecumseh and Prague. The tour will end Monday afternoon, Oct. 9.
A public presentation of the program is set for 7 p.m. Thursday in the gym at Shawnee Middle School, 4300 N. Union.