New summer program immerses kids in firefighting


Those firefighters, they can be real cut-ups sometimes.

“We’re going to make a convertible,” Anaheim Fire & Rescue Capt. David Baker tells the 14 elementary school kids raptly watching him.

“Who likes convertibles?”

Behind Baker, three colleagues from Truck 3 use the Jaws of Life and other heavy rescue tools to cut apart a white Corolla.

First, they gingerly break the windows to avoid glass raining down on the imaginary occupants.

“They made the window look like plastic,” says one kid in the summer enrichment activity camp.

The firefighters then shear off the front and rear passenger doors before cleanly removing the top of the car.

The entire process takes about 10 minutes.

“Imagine yourself in this car,” Baker tells the kids. “We want to make sure we get you out safely without doing any more harm to you.”

Several kids are impressed.

“Cool!” one says.

“Wow!” says another.

The kids — fourth- through seventh-graders from Mattie Lou Maxwell Elementary in Anaheim — remain captivated in the yard of the North Net Training Center, at Orangewood Avenue and the 57 Freeway across from Angel Stadium.

“It was cool because we got to see a car chopped up,” says sixth-grader Otto Duarte, 11.

It also is cool when Otto and his classmates get to see firefighters torch a purple Chrysler Concorde before they suffocate the fire with blasts from a hose.

Thursday was the fourth and final day of the first-ever Firefighter and Police Career Awareness Class, the brainchild of AF&R chaplain Nathan Zug, a member of Magnolia Baptist Church and of the Magnolia School District Board of Trustees.

“It went great,” Zug said of the summer enrichment class, which included presentations by fire and police officials over two days at Maxwell Elementary, following by a field trip to Anaheim City Hall and, perhaps the highlight, the visit to North Net.

“It far exceeded my expectations.”

After the “car extraction” demo, Otto said:

“I want to become a firefighter.”

The educational program ran for four hours over four days for four classes. It also included arts and crafts and hockey – in addition to the fire and police presentations.

About 75 students participated in the program, a joint effort of the non-profit JMh-Anaheim Foundation Inc., AF&R, Anaheim PD, GOALS, Magnolia School District and Magnolia Baptist Church.

7-26 Kids