Cherry Knoll Elementary Students Learn About Fire Safety Through Dogs

The Kasey Program is helping fire departments across the nation educate young kids on what to do in the event of a fire.

Fire/Life Safety Dogs Kasey and Karmel visit over 400 schools a year, as well as several burn camps.School Fire Ed Pkg 6 042600 00 04 09still001

“I love doing the program in a fashion that, more than anything, the dogs are the educators and I think that sticks with the kids more,” said Kasey Program Coordinator Jeff Owens.

Retired Firefighter Jeff Owens started the Kasey Program in 1994 as a way to teach kids important skills that could save their lives.

Kasey and Karmel serve as the seventh generation labs of their namesake.

“I’ve been a firefighter for 35 years and I have vivid memories of people I’ve pulled out of fires, children and adults both, and if I can save some other firefighters from not having to witness that, not having to do that, that’s a good reminder for me of why I do what I do,” said Owens.

It’s clear this school has some future firefighters in training already.

“Stop, drop and roll!” shouted a group of second graders. “Touch the door and see if it’s hot. [What if the door is hot, should you open it?] No!”

Thanks to Kasey and Karmel, they know exactly what to do in the event of a fire.

Since the pandemic, many young students, like those at Cherry Knoll Elementary School, are receiving fire safety training for the very first time.

“I just think it was great to have all the kids, this is our first all-school assembly, which hasn’t happened in a couple years, so the kids there—they did a great job of representing Cherry Knolls,” said Cherry Knoll Elementary School Principal Victoria Derks.

As an added bonus, the Grand Traverse Metro Fire Department named Cherry Knoll Elementary School their “rock star” school for their dedication to teaching students about fire and life safety.

“They take the safety of their children and those families very seriously and we just want to recognize them for being our champions,” said Grand Traverse Metro Fire and Life Safety Educator, Jennifer Froehlich. “We’re just super proud of them, we’re super excited to have their school on our jurisdiction.”

They are the only school to participate in every single training held by the fire department.

“I was totally surprised, it was awesome, I think we’re doing a lot of great things in this building to promote fire safety and just safety in general,” said Derks.

Training through the Kasey Program is completely free to any school that wishes to take part.

“Teaching fire safety shouldn’t cost the school anything,” said Owens. “Here, in Traverse City, the fire department did all the scheduling for us, other places I go, I will reach out to the schools myself directly.”