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National Fire Pup Day with Tango from Fire Safety Dogs
Posted by Vanessa Penagos on October 1, 2013
Filed under PetMeds Spotlight

Sound the alarm! It’s National Fire Pup Day and we’re thrilled to have Tango from The Fire Safety Dogs share insight on fire safety and what being a fire safety dog is all about.

Fire Safety Dog, Tango

Thank you Tango for taking the time to share your experiences, we know you’re very busy, so let’s get to it! What is a typical day like in the life of a Fire Safety Dog?

The Fire Safety Dogs: Siren, Molly and I, take our work seriously, but we also like to have fun! Siren, Molly and I start out our morning with a yummy bowl of dog food, then we go outside for our morning stretch and playtime. It’s so much fun getting to watch the younger ones (Siren and Molly), run around and play! Since I’m older (I just turned 12), I keep an eye on those two and watch them play. They have a blast! We also invite our brother, Deuce, a rescued dog, to play with us.

After playtime, we go to Sparkles’ Clubhouse and hang out the rest of the morning. We each take time on the computer working on our Facebook pages, saying good morning to all our friends and sharing what we will be up to that day. We even share fire safety tips and videos we made! Sometimes we post links to our free downloadable fire safety materials, like coloring pages and activity sheets, that sort of thing. Fortunately, Firefighter Dayna types for us! We also catch up on our emails, reading notes from children we receive from around the world!

Then, we help Firefighter Dayna with our blog: Fire Safety Rocks. We love our blog and even won a national award for it this year, so we’re very proud of it! Our blog shares fire safety tips, all the latest news and shares our adventures. After catching up on all our social media, we take a nap. Boy, does Siren snore loud!

After lunch Molly goes into training with Firefighter Dayna. Molly spends about 1-2 hours a day practicing tricks that she has learned and learning new ones. She is such a fast learner! You know what the funny thing is? She really loves it! Dalmatians are working dogs and they love to keep busy! It makes them so happy! In the afternoon, we visit with teachers from all across the world planning Skype visits. We Skype with schools free of charge, so we receive several Skype requests each day! It’s a lot of work keeping up with all the requests, but we don’t mind! We know that what we’re doing is helping save lives. We also visit with the media in the afternoons. We get several media requests each week, so Firefighter Dayna is on the phone a great deal. In addition, we work on planning our live-streamed safety show, Sparkles’ Safety Spot, which is live on the web every Friday morning at 9 A.M. CST. There is a great deal of planning that goes into the show!

The Fire Safety Dogs

On Monday evenings, one of us will go to the fire station with Firefighter Dayna for Monday night training. We take turns going and we love to see the firefighters from our department and help them as much as we can! On special days, we go to schools in the area to do fire safety presentations. Those are some of our favorite days! We spend a great deal traveling (we travel about 13,000 miles annually) across the US. We recently returned from two back-to-back trips to Washington, DC where we held a fire safety presentation at an elementary school with the DC Fire Department, saw our two Senators, made a TV appearance, attended the BlogPaws conference and made a trip to NYC to make an appearance at the National Safe Kids Day. Molly was so lucky! She got to meet Nigel Barker!

Next month we will be in Chicago to make an appearance at Sears headquarters and will have a fire safety presentation at the Aurora Regional Fire Museum. That will be an awesome trip! That’s pretty much a typical day!

What do you enjoy most about being a Fire Safety Dog?

What we enjoy the most as Fire Safety Dogs is helping save lives and reducing fire related deaths and injuries. Trying to reach as many people as we can with the fire safety message: That makes us happiest.

Lt. Jim Peltier from the Southborough Fire Department with Sparkles

Another thing we enjoy the most is when we hear our program has helped save lives. To date, we have helped save the lives of 7 children and 2 adults involved in actual fire-related situations. That makes us want to work even harder to help keep children and their caregivers safe!

Does one have to be a Dalmatian to be a Fire Safety Dog?

We are so honored that Sparkles was the first to be named a “Fire Safety Dog.” Sparkles, rescued from a home with 62 other dogs and adopted by our family, went onto do some amazing things, such as helping save the lives of the children and adults mentioned earlier. The Fire Safety Dogs (Siren, Molly and I) are all Dalmatians. That is by design. Firefighter Dayna will continue to use Dalmatians as they are a tradition in the fire service, dating back until the time that horses pulled wagons to go to fires.

There are many incredible dogs throughout the country that teach fire safety that aren’t Dalmatians. You’d be surprised how many breeds of dogs out there are that help keep children safe! Speaking of Sparkles and how pawsome she was, she appeared on PBS KIDS Sprout, FOX and Friends, participated in a Congressional Briefing on Capitol Hill, was mentioned on the Floor of Congress and even had her picture on a Jumbotron in Times Square in New York City!

Firefighter Dayna wrote a children’s book about Sparkles, titled Sparkles the Fire Safety Dog. The book was mentioned in a Senate sub-committee meeting on Capitol Hill, won a national award and Firefighter Dayna’s publishing company, Firehouse Dog Publishing, sold 15,000 copies. We love that the book is helping save lives and a portion of the proceeds go to the Keep Kids Fire Safe Foundation, a foundation Firefighter Dayna started in memory of Sparkles.

Can you share a bit about what Sparkle’s Safety Spot is?

Certainly! Sparkle’s Safety Spot is a live-streamed safety show that airs every morning on our website at 9am CST.  Here is a link to a downloadable PDF which we hope your readers find useful.

To those of our readers who may have kids at home, what advice can you give them about the importance of teaching fire safety at home?

According to a report from FEMA’s Topical Fire Report Series (Volume 11, Issue 9 / February 2011), children age 4 and younger, are those least able to make their way to safety without help and account for roughly half of all childhood deaths and injuries suffered in fires. In addition, the report states that children younger than 5 made up 52% of the deaths of children younger than 16 in fires in 2007 and comprised of 46% of the injuries that year. With those statistics in mind, you can see how critical it is to practice fire safety every day!

Here are a few fire safety tips for parents:

  • It is important to make an escape map.
  • When drawing your escape map, draw two ways out of every
    room and include a picture of your meeting place. Hang your escape map where everyone can see it.
  • Practice your home fire drill two times a year.
  • Make sure you have working smoke alarms and that your
    children recognize the sound and purpose of a smoke alarm.
  • Get together with your family and pick out a meeting place. It can be a tree, fence, mailbox, neighbor’s house, etc. Wherever it is make sure everyone knows the location!
  • Be sure your children understand that once they are out, that
    they STAY OUT! This is so important as homes can become totally engulfed in flames in as little as three minutes or less!

You all have helped many families with your educational information. Is there any story which sticks out most to you?

Here’s Firefighter Dayna’s favorite story:

Five year old Angelica shared her story with me, “Firefighter Dayna I was in bed under the ‘cobers’ and the smoke came. I crawled out of bed and crawled low, just like Sparkles [the Fire Safety Dog] showed me to. I said, “C’mon daddy, you have to get on the floor and crawl low like Sparkles.” By this time, her dad was disoriented because he had been standing in the smoke filled room and thankfully he was able to follow Angelica out of the house. The brave firefighters later shared with Firefighter Dayna that Angelica’s father followed her out of the home and they said that as soon as he reached the door, they scooped him up and took him to the hospital (where he spent 7 days there; 4 days in ICU). Immediately after they carried him away from the front door, the firefighters stated that the home flashed over (a “flashover” is where the home totally becomes engulfed in flames).

A day doesn’t go by when Firefighter Dayna doesn’t think of Angelica and her story and she is so thankful that she and her dad are safe.

Tango, thank you for taking the time to answer a few of our questions! Where can our readers follow you and learn more about the Fire Safety Dogs?

You’re welcome! Thank you for sharing our work and for helping us keep children and their caregivers safe! Readers can follow us on:

Fire Safety Dogs’ webpage

Molly the Fire Safety Dogs’ Facebook page

The Fire Safety Dogs’ Facebook page

Fire Safety Rocks blog

Stay safe! And remember: Fire Safety Rocks!

Tango visiting an elementary school

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