In the wake of a fire that claimed the lives of three children at the Southgate Apartments, the Bellevue fire department is taking a proactive move.
The tragic fire followed a successful Kid's Fire Safety Camp that was attended by 300 Sarpy County children, but during a review of the fire response by Bellevue firefighters it was determined that few if any of the kids living at Southgate had the opportunity to attend the camp.
The Kid's Fire Safety Camp is held each summer for kids ages five through twelve. At camp children learn fire safety rules and how to safely evacuate a burning structure.
Bellevue Fire Captain Mike Hegarty said, "Take the example of the tragedy that went on. I'm sure none of those kids went to the camp."
Joanie Imes is a resident of Southgate and the mother of two girls ages two and five. Her kids did not attend the camp. She explains right now she doesn't have a car. Now Bellevue firefighters have decided to fill a need and take their Kid's Fire Safety Camp mobile.
Hegarty said, "We'll do one complex a month. Take the trailer there. Take a squad there. Do a mini camp right there at the complexes to make that happen."
The plan is to try and cover all Bellevue apartment complexes.
Joanie Imes said, "That would be great because I think it would be good for the children to learn not to play with fire."
Capt. Hagerty said, "We've already been contacted from the Southgate apartment owners. They said if you have anything you can come out and talk to people and this just flowed right into our plan."
The Bellevue Volunteer Fire Department has several safety education programs. In addition to the Kid's Fire Safety Camp, the department will provide smoke detectors for those who cannot afford one.
They also have a Juvenile Fire Setters program wherein instructors show young children the dangers of playing with lighters and matches, and they conduct fire extinguisher training and CPR classes for schools and businesses.
All of these programs are free of charge and available upon request. If interested, call 293-3153.