The Valdosta Fire Department displays its latest children’s educational tool, an inflatable bounce house, purchased with donations from the community.

Prevention may be the best medicine, even when it comes to containing fires, and the Valdosta Fire Department has upped the dosage of preventive measures with a new $20,000 bounce house that the department hopes will be a more effective tool for teaching fire safety to area youth.

The traditional method of teaching kids fire safety was to bring kids to the fire station, show them films and give them coloring books, said Valdosta Fire Chief J. D. Rice. He said the fire department needed a new approach to engross children in learning fire safety and he said the inside of the bounce house was filled with information.

“With technology moving so fast and kids learning more at an earlier age, we wanted to make sure we kept up with their learning pace while keeping it fun,” said Rice. “Inside the fire safety house, it teaches them how to look for hazards, how to call for help, helps them memorize their address.”

A firefighter will be inside with them, talking to them about fire safety and pointing out hazards that could be in the home, Rice stated.

After kids slide down the escape chute and exit the bounce house, according to Rice, they’ll be required to tell a firefighter what they learned in order to gain re-entry.

The bounce house, designed by Inflatable Images of Ohio, should be ready to rock and roll by March, Rice said.

Every cent of the $20,000 used to purchase the bounce house from Inflatable Images, a major supplier of balloons for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, came from community donations, said Rice.

“I'd like to thank the Valdosta community. This was purchased by donated funds, every dime of the $20,000, it came from this community. The guys got out to area retail locations and collected every dollar from the people of Valdosta.”

The fire department is a member of the Community Partners in Education, Rice said.

The fire department will notify its CPIE partners of the availability when the bounce house is ready to go on tour.

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