Department maintains township fire education amid pandemic

Instructional videos address preschool and elementary students

During a typical year, the Washington Township Fire Department holds an open house and assemblies at schools across the district. With the COVID-19 pandemic making those trips to school impossible this year, the department is coming straight to students’ homes — virtually, that is. 

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“There’s a lot of brainstorming, and we decided to do something a little bit different to still get the program into the schools,” said fire Chief Pat Dolgos. “We are definitely excited.”

Fire prevention coordinator Adam Seczech came up with the idea to create  prevention and safety videos for elementary and preschool students. The department usually gathers students for assemblies during October as part of fire prevention month.

“Obviously, with COVID, you can’t have assemblies, and you can’t go into the schools,” Dolgos said. “We wanted to make sure that the kids were still getting the fire safety education, and they were still getting the full presentation.”

The videos were filmed at the Fries Mill Road firehouse, with Seczech as the main character. They illustrate different aspects of fire safety, including practicing home fire drills, checking smoke alarms, closing the door at night and recognizing that firemen are friends. 

“A fireman in his gear makes a hissing noise (due to the air tank). Kids tend to be afraid of that so we dress up,” Seczech explained. “We start with a guy standing there, and then we dress him up and show students it is the same guy; he’s just wearing a silly costume like you do on Halloween.”

The preschool video also features the puppet Fireman Dan and a group of young kids who demonstrate how to safely exit a burning building by crawling low to the ground. Both videos feature Seczech talking to students about how to dial 911 and whom to ask for in an emergency. 

“The videos are huge, and I can’t say that enough,” Seczech noted. “We are still getting the message out. We can drop off the DVD or send a link, and with the preschools, we give them a fire safety booklet and a helmet.  And we are still going to do that, just drop it off and have them watch the video.”

COVID has affected many businesses and groups across the state, and the Washington Township fire department is no exception. It recently cancelled an annual Halloween fire prevention event that typically draws thousands of people. 

“We do live burn demonstrations and everything else,” Dolgos said. “That’s one major thing we are unable to accomplish.”

But Dolgos wants residents to know that just because COVID-19 has made things look a bit different, the work firemen do in the community remains.

“We still have to go out there to the community and educate, not only educate the children and their parents but the business owners as well,” Dolgos said.

“We want to make sure everyone remains safe.”

The department wants to create a forum for an open line of communications with residents, through Zoom or another video platform. More details will be released soon at

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