Rallying around the fire engines

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Capt. Brad Dillow of the Cape Girardeau Fire Department participated in a mother's plot to convince her 6-year-old son to eat his vegetables.

He pulled out pieces of firefighters' uniform for the boy to lift. Treavis Covington's frame doubled forward from the weight of the coat, pants and boots.

"Oh, that's heavy," he said frequently.

A uniform alone weighs up to 80 pounds, Dillow said. And firefighters don't take the elevators, they take the stairs.

"See, that's why you've got to eat your vegetables," said his mother, Delilah Covington, tapping Treavis' shoulder.

At the 2005 Capaha Fire Truck Rally on Saturday, Treavis and hundreds of adults with other children interacted with area firefighters. Departments from Scott City, Millersville, Perryville, Whitewater, East County and Cape Girardeau displayed engines and ladder trucks. Firefighters competed in a bucket brigade, a tug-of-war, a hose relay and a water fight.

Children climbed on some trucks as if they were playground equipment. Two antique trucks hauled people around the lagoon. A light breeze carried the mist from a 100-foot stream of water that was shooting from a water cannon on the ground.

Nearby, a mother and her five children watched.

"I wanna get the water," said the 2-year-old girl.

"You can't touch it, Kezharia, it'll knock you down," said her mother, Yolanda Dixon of Cape Girardeau.

Fifteen-year-old Kiona Luster preferred to linger around the antique fire trucks.

"I love the one from Perryville," she said. The 1875 engine was horse drawn and had two horizontal poles that extended out like wings.

Other children learned about home escape plans at the smoke house, a two-story trailer used by firefighters to demonstrate fire safety. One group of 11 children, age 6 and under, answered questions about candles, hot ashes and bathroom safety. At the end, they crawled out a second-story window and climbed down a ladder as four firefighters from Scott City and Cape Girardeau helped.

It was scary, said 6-year-old Aubrey Kitchen. Her 4-year-old brother, Ezra, agreed.

"'Cause when I was crawling down the ladder, I was about to fall," he said. "It was not fun."

Their mother, Jamie Dedert of Cape Girardeau, was concerned about their home escape plan.

"Their room is upstairs," she said, "so we're going to get a ladder to put in the garage in case there's a fire."

State fire instructor John Sachen said that chain ladders are ideal, affordable and available at local retail stores. When rolled up, the ladders are about 18 inches thick and up to 24 inches wide. One end of the ladder has hooks that anchor on the window sill.

"You can just roll them out, drop them down and go right out," Sachen said.

For Treavis, dreams of saving people have danced through his head since he was 2 years old. He has all the firefighter toys: the hat, the ax, the badge and the radio. About 20 toy fire engines and ladder trucks are parked in his home. On career day at school, he always declares he wants to be a firefighter.

It's a reasonable dream, said his mother, of Cape Girardeau. But vegetables are an ongoing battle.

As to whether Dillow's lesson helps ...

"We'll see when I go home and make broccoli this evening," his mother said.

jmetelski@semissourian.com

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