Fire Chief Washington Visits Chocolate Storytime

chiefwash28_27945038864_oHow honored we felt by the visit of Fire Chief Bertral Washington and the Pasadena firefighters!  The chief came to read some books, but also brought his team to show the elements of a good First Aid kit and share some fire safety tips.  Girl Scout Troop 4601 came to gain knowledge and take part in activities that would help them obtain their First Aid badge.

Before Chief Washington started reading, he connected with the kids and audience by talking about his formative years growing up in Inglewood, California.  He attended Kelso Elementary and Westchester High schools.  Chief Washington also talked about his college years in Washington, D.C., at Howard University, part of the Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) family.  After graduating, he became a teacher at Raymond Avenue in South Central Los Angeles.  He later moved to Las Vegas, where he became a firefighter, then a paramedic, and quickly worked his way all the way up to fire chief for all of Clarke County, Nevada.  before moving here to Pasadena, where his wife grew up.

chiefwash12_28561942285_oChief Washington also spoke about his unconventional journey to becoming a firefighter and later, a fire chief.  He expressed gratitude to his teachers and to his community for nurturing his desires and encouraged the children, specifically girls, in the audience to be proud to be excellent in STEM subjects in school, set goals and be persistent in pursuing their dreams, and to become firefighters if they have the desire.  He also praised the Girl Scouts organization for the knowledge and skills it teaches girls as it relates to fire safety.  The Girl Scouts were very prepared with great questions.  First grade Daisy, Annara, asked Chief Washington how he earned his badge and 3rd grade Brownie, Alicia, asked what happens when a fire reaches a telephone pole.  Everyone, including the parents, was attentive and engaged as Chief Washington answered questions and made technical information very understandable.

Captain Chris Reno from First Station 36, walking distance from La Pintoresca Branch Library, introduced members from his crew:  Carrie Jenkins, a firefighter paramedic and Keith Holloway, a fire truck driver. They displayed their first aid kit and described the contents and how they are used. 

Some of the Girl Scouts created First Aid kits and wanted feedback.  After elaborating on the elements that make a good first aid kit, the captain viewed one created by Alicia.  He commended her kit because it was homemade and complete, and he thought that including cough drops was unique.  He also expressed his appreciation for the creative container, a toilet tissue roll that Alicia had repurposed.  The captain and crew also used Junior Girl Scout, Mackenzie, as a model to demonstrate how to bandage a cut using the proper techniques and materials.

Unfortunately, the crew had to leave to respond to a real-life situation, so guests did not get a chance to see the fire truck.  However, Chief Washington made sure to come back to give everyone toy fire hats and stick-on badges.  Afterwards, everyone was treated to a root bear float sponsored by Girl Scout dad, Louis Randall and retired teacher, Barbara Lindsey of Inglewood.  Thanks to Stella Pulliam, Marsha Payne, and Chris Walker for helping with the refreshments.

Although we usually meet on the last Fridays of the month, this Monday was the best time for everyone to come together.  Much gratitude goes out to Pasadena Fire Department staff members Dana Webster who coordinated Chief Washington’s schedule and Lisa Derderian who adjusted her own schedule and coordinated those of the fire captain and his team.  Ms. Derderian also left guests with Help/Okay window signs for their disaster preparedness kits.

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