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Martinsville Bulletin, Inc.
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Martinsville, Virginia 24115
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Art students’ ‘fire engine’ will help teach safety tips
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Henry County Assistant Fire Marshal Kiah Cooper (left) and Martinsville Deputy Fire Marshal Andy Powers (right) stand on either side of a prop fire engine designed by Bassett High School students. Standing inside the cab are (from left) Olivia Ingram, Sally Hubbard, Jasmine Fowler and Joshua Amos. Seated in front of the cab are (from left) Taki Swanson, Kaitlin Ganse and Ashley Harbour. Not pictured are Tatyana Ford, Sharon Cobbler and Jennifer Garrett. (Bulletin photo by Ben R. Williams)

Friday, October 11, 2013

By BEN R. WILLIAMS - Bulletin staff writer

Henry County Public Safety (HCPS) added a new fire engine to its fleet Thursday, thanks to some help from a group of Bassett High School art students.

According to Henry County Assistant Fire Marshal Kiah Cooper, the wooden prop fire engine will be used in educational puppet shows for area elementary schools and day cares.

“We typically do the normal fire safety stuff,” Cooper said. “Smoke detectors, escape plans, meeting places; different things like that that kids can remember.”

The educational programs are a joint effort between the city and county, Cooper said. They offer two programs: one for pre-K through second grade, and another for third through fifth grades.

“We do the same general talk, but we tailor it” to the different age groups, he said.

The construction and painting of the fire engine was no easy task, according to BHS art teacher Jessica McAlexander.

“It was very intensive,” she said. “It’s eight feet tall. If you were to lay out all four boards, it’s 16 feet across.”

The project took about two weeks, she said, with a group of students in the school’s art club working on it an hour and a half each school day. HCPS provided primed wooden boards, the fire truck images they wanted painted on the boards, and paint and paint brushes.

“We provided the work,” added art club student Joshua Amos.

The fire truck images were projected onto the boards and then traced, McAlexander said. Students who participated in the project earned service hours toward the National Art Honor Society and other honor societies.

BHS students who participated in the project included Amos, Olivia Ingram, Sally Hubbard, Jasmine Fowler, Taki Swanson, Kaitlin Ganse, Ashley Harbour, Tatyana Ford, Sharon Cobbler and Jennifer Garrett.

According to the students, the project was quite an undertaking, and a fair amount of paint ended up accidentally dripped on the walls, the floor, and on a few occasions, each other.

Cooper and Martinsville Deputy Fire Marshal Andy Powers were impressed by the final result. Cooper said salvaged fire truck lights will be added to the fire engine to complete the effect.

Powers said he enjoys doing the educational puppet shows.

“It’s fun to hear the kids laugh,” he said. “As long as they’re laughing, they’re usually learning something as well.”

“We greatly appreciate the Bassett art class for doing this for us,” Cooper said. “This will be a huge asset to our program.”


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