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Fire trucks chauffeur safety-aware third-graders to dinner

Annabelle Pereira from Heritage Elementary School holds her winning art entry in Madison Fire and Rescue Department's "Truck and Treat" art contest. Joining Annabelle on the fire truck ride were her parents Brandie and Robert Pereira, from left, and Heritage assistant principal Sharon Nichole Phillips. (CONTRIBUTED)
Annabelle Pereira from Heritage Elementary School holds her winning art entry in Madison Fire and Rescue Department’s “Truck and Treat” art contest. Joining Annabelle on the fire truck ride were her parents Brandie and Robert Pereira, from left, and Heritage assistant principal Sharon Nichole Phillips. (CONTRIBUTED)
This Madison family exits a fire truck for the spaghetti dinner at Fire Station No. 2. (CONTRIBUTED)
This Madison family exits a fire truck for the spaghetti dinner at Fire Station No. 2. (CONTRIBUTED)

MADISON – A fire safety contest led seven Madison youngsters to the thrill ride of their lives in a fire truck to enjoy a free dinner.

Madison Fire and Rescue Department sponsored the first annual “Truck and Treat” art contest in observance of October as Fire Safety Month. Firefighters invited all Madison third-graders to paint or decorate paper, pop-up fire trucks.

Art students from James Clemens High School selected a winner from each Madison elementary school. Winners and up to five family members were chauffeured by fire truck to a spaghetti dinner at Fire Station No. 2 on Nov. 14.

Winning elementary students were Malikah Stowe, Columbia; Annabelle Pereira, Heritage; Kriket Johnson, Horizon; Ryan Andrewjeski, Madison; Donovan White-Davidson, Mill Creek; Charlotte Herron, Rainbow; and Summer Castillo-Shirley, West Madison.

The fire department also invited each student’s teacher, a school administrator and city officials to enjoy the spaghetti.

Capt. Russ Kennington, who coordinates community outreach, said the fire department constantly seeks creative ways to reach students and instill lifelong habits for fire safety.

“We want to make sure the students learn these important messages, but we also want them to have fun,” Kennington said. “Through innovative educational programs at Madison City Schools, we (can) partner with them (so) students and the community as a whole are benefited.”

Madison City Schools Superintendent Dr. Dee Fowler thanked “men and women of our fire department for all they do for this community. They are first class in public safety and first class in partnering with our schools.”

The art contest and dinner exemplify “how our schools and city work together to make Madison such a desired place to live,” Fowler said.

For Fire Safety Day at Columbia, kindergartners through second-graders toured a fire truck. Firefighters explained tools and their protective gear. Children crawled through the department’s popular SAFE House, which simulates a burning room with smoke.

Firefighters also spoke to grades 3-6, Columbia PTA vice president Quincy Sorensen said. Firefighters emphasized that families, in advance, should designate a meeting place if fire occurs.

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