More Than an Open House

Kevin Shannahan

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The Natchitoches Fire Department held its inaugural open house at the department’s training facility Thursday, October 11th. Sparky the Fire Dog was joined by Smokey the Bear and the men and women of the Natchitoches Fire Department, the Louisiana Office of Agriculture and Forestry as well as volunteer firefighters from the parish’s fire districts in teaching children fire safety.

The open house was a family orientated event with grilled hot dogs and fixings and games for the children. The youngsters were able to learn what do in case of a fire in their home by crawling through a trailer filled with smoke to an exit. The firefighters laid out an obstacle course for the children that ended with them using an actual fire hose on a target “fire”. The highlight of the evening, however, was a demonstration in which a training car was set on fire and extinguished by firefighters in full gear.

As I looked at the open house, I realized I was seeing something more, something deeper. I was seeing America at its best, highest self. The children in the smoke trailer were learning more than how to escape a fire. They were learning that there were men and women who will come and look for them. The children on the obstacle course were having a lot of fun. They were also learning. Work hard, get the hose on the fire. More is caught than taught and these patient, helpful men were excellent examples to the children on a number of levels.

The Natchitoches Fire Department’s open house was a terrific curative for the depressing polarization plaguing our nation. It is all too easy to get caught up in the us v them world of television and the internet. Put down the smart phone. Get off of social media. Turn off the television. Get out and meet your neighbors.

I would like you to imagine something. A firefighter is leaving a burning house carrying a child to safety. The mask and gear make it difficult to discern who the person is. Is he or she white or black? Is it a man or a woman? Do you care?


One thought on “More Than an Open House

  1. Well said, Kevin. And many thanks to the fire department. Those kids look like they were having loads of fun. Who doesn’t remember being awed by fire fighters and police officers as a kid?

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