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Furry fire safety
Koorsen dogs visit Pipe Creek, Mac El
By Eric Stoff, stoffe@maconaquah.k12.in.us

Maconaquah School Corporation’s youngest Braves recently learned fire safety tips from Koorsen Fire & Security’s Kasey Program.

Jeff Owens and his black labrador retrievers, Kasey and Kali, presented to kindergarten, first grade, and second grade students at Pipe Creek Elementary School and Maconaquah Elementary School. Owens is a retired Indianapolis Firefighter and the Public Education Coordinator for Koorsen. 


“(Jeff and his dogs) are absolutely phenomenal at what they did and the message that they are able to get across to young elementary students,” said Mac El Assistant Principal Jeremy Fewell. “During the presentation you can see the engagement on the students faces, and they are able to comprehend the importance of the message and take home some good strategies for fire and personal safety.”

Fewell said the message of fire and personal safety is something that every student needs to hear and understand “whether they are at home, a friend’s house, or at school.”

During the presentation, Owens taught the students basics about fire safety including stop, drop, and roll; the importance of having an outdoor meeting place in case of a house fire; checking batteries in fire alarms; and crawling on the floor to avoid inhaling smoke. Owens’ dogs performed tricks to illustrate each lesson he had for the students.

Mac El second graders Zachary Duke and Maddalyne Walker said they enjoyed the program.

Duke learned that if there is a fire, he should touch the doorknob first. If the doorknob is hot, it’s best to exit through a window because fire is on the other side of the door.

Walker said she learned “if your clothes catch on fire, you stop, drop, and roll.”

Both students went home from the program and discussed their families’ meeting places in the event of a house fire, and they checked the batteries of their smoke detectors.

Duke and Walker said they also learned how to behave around dogs, and the importance of asking an owner if petting their dog is allowed.

Owens has been doing the presenting with the Kasey Program more than 20 years. The prorgram reaches more than 400,000 in about 400 locations across the country every year.

During a previous visit to Maconaquah, Owens said the dogs make the information more memorable.

“At the end of the program, I could have changed my shirt, and the kids wouldn’t have (noticed),” Owens said with a laugh. “But if I walk back in here a year later, they’ll call my dogs by name.”