PATERSON, NJ- Residents up and down Governor Street needn’t have worried about the flashing lights and blaring horn coming from the fire truck parked in front of Saint Augustine Presbyterian Church Thursday evening.
Instead of an emergency, the visit by Engine 5 was part of the Paterson Fire Department’s continued efforts to reach out into the community. With several members of the Bronze Heat, an organization within the Department that counts many of the it’s African American firefighters as its members, on hand to offer important fire safety tips, the session was aimed towards the more than 20 children in the room as part of the Multi-Service Center’s evening program.
“There is nothing more important than the safety of our children, and that starts with education,” said Roshawn Davis, Public Relations Director, Bronze Heat. “As firefighters we are always prepared to save a life, but we’d much rather give them the tools to protect themselves.”
The Center’s Director, Nancy Grier, said the visit was an important one because it would not only teach the children how to be fire safe, but also give them an opportunity to “go home and teach their parents.” It was also an opportunity to learn more about a potential career, “something to aspire to for boys and girls,” she continued with a nod toward Firefighter Janice Miller.
Community activist and Paterson Cares stalwart Roger “Gee” Grier was also among the adults gathered on Thursday volunteering their time on behalf of the children. Not one to sugarcoat the challenges that face the community, including the fact that “most corners in the area are full of drug dealers,” Grier sounded a positive note of the lasting impact the firefighter’s visit could have on the children saying that they represented “positive role models that look like them.”
In a week that has seen its members fight back multi-alarm fires that led to the collapse of one building, and caused significant damage to three homes, it was perhaps, judging by the enthusiasm of the firefighters, and the reaction of the children, answering the call on Thursday to Saint Augustine that best reflects the community oriented work of the Paterson Fire Department.