Northeast Tarrant

FALSE Alarm gang uses laughs to teach kids fire prevention

Members of the FALSE Alarm gang of the Bedford Fire Department always have a laugh as they teach fire prevention. Firefighter/paramedic Alex Hardy, aka Blaze, left, and firefighter/paramedic Matt Wagner, aka Hazmatt, put on a performance last year for Bedford students along with Uncle Fried, the puppet. The gang will return this fall to Bedford schools.
Members of the FALSE Alarm gang of the Bedford Fire Department always have a laugh as they teach fire prevention. Firefighter/paramedic Alex Hardy, aka Blaze, left, and firefighter/paramedic Matt Wagner, aka Hazmatt, put on a performance last year for Bedford students along with Uncle Fried, the puppet. The gang will return this fall to Bedford schools. Courtesy

These are the quiet and rest days for the FALSE Alarm gang.

But in just a few months, the clown gang will be on fire — again.

That’s when the Bedford Fire Department’s clown fire prevention group will start to train and prepare firefighters for the fall fire prevention season with their program which is presented to elementary school students in Bedford.

“These are not skits or scripts that are put together overnight,” said fire Deputy Chief Bobby Sewell who is the unofficial manager of the gang. “Every year, they put on a different skit with fire prevention being the main focus.”

And the alarm gang knows something about fire prevention — they’ve been putting on skits for students since 1992. At that time, three Bedford firefighters discovered that there was a program offered at Texas A&M University during the annual firefighting school called fire prevention education through alternative characterization otherwise known as clowns.

To get ready, almost every year, the Bedford Fire Department has sent their clown group to Bullhead City, Ariz., to a national clown college hosted by the Arizona Fire and Burn Educators Association. It’s a week long school aimed at firefighters and police that work with children. The workshop trains firefighters and police on make-up, puppeteer, building props and script writing.

After the training, preparations really take off in the summer as the Bedford group also attends a state and regional workshop on clown fire prevention training.

By August and September, the seven member alarm gang from Bedford will be busy building props, getting music together, preparing costumes and rehearsing.

Firefighters build their skit based on a theme from the National Fire Protection Association.

“That could be kitchen safety or any other topics,” said firefighter Alex Hardy aka Blaze of the FALSE Alarm gang. “We then look for some current theme music from Disney Radio or some place like that.”

And no, firefighters don’t need a drama degree. The gang is made up of firefighters who volunteer for the stage and tryout during auditions.

Once a firefighter makes the gang, most start with working the sound system for the show.

“I got interested when I helped with building props and setting it up for them,” Hardy said who will be working his sixth year with the gang. “Even to this day, I get nervous with our first show, and then I calm down.”

Generally, the gang has their skit and props ready by October for fire prevention month.

Last October in their “Clown Dynasty” shows, the clown group presented eight to 10 programs for more than 5,000 school-aged children in Bedford.

“The joy is the laughter of the kids,” Hardy said. “And at the same time, we’re teaching them valuable lessons.”

Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763

Twitter: @mingoramirezjr

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