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Winter Park-Maitland Observer
Reading to the Children

The Maitland Fire Rescue Department started a new outreach program in the elementary schools located within the City of Maitland and Town of Eatonville.  The goal of the program is to allow on-duty firefighters to visit the schools and read to the children.  The program is designed to help create a relationship with the children and firefighters in the community.  It shows the children that there is a normal person behind the helmet, mask, and firefighting gear.  When a young child is involved in an emergency incident, it can be scary experience. They are surrounded by public safety officials that they view as strangers.  By interacting with firefighters in a safe classroom environment, the children become more comfortable with the firefighters and know that firefighters are there to help.  

The firefighters recently visited the Jewish Community Center for the first reading.  They showed up 30 minutes early to review the books that the teachers selected for the day.  The firefighters dressed in normal duty clothes that are worn around the station and fire helmets.  Each firefighter went to a separate classroom and read a short story to the children.  After they were finished reading the firefighters answered questions and allowed the children to share stories.  It was a unique experience for everyone involved and one that will foster a healthy relationship between the children and firefighters.

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