Harding Student Named “Honorary Fire Fighter” by DMFD
If Harding Middle School 6th grader Robert Adams Jr. hasn’t decided on a Halloween getup yet he’s got a good, authentic start on one now. Thanks to Brian O’Keefe and the Des Moines Fire Department he can easily dress the part of a firefighter. And, according to O’Keefe, RJ already knows how to behave as one.
When a call came in from RJ’s mom recently to deal with a small fire O’Keefe and crew took the opportunity to check the home for smoke alarms while they were there. They left some free samples, and before they were back on the truck and gone RJ had grabbed a screwdriver and installed them.
Thursday afternoon O’Keefe paid RJ another visit, this time to recognize him at an assembly of the Harding 6th graders in the school auditorium. He gave him a framed certificate that named him an honorary firefighter. Nice – a guy who installs smoke alarms around the house shouldn’t have any trouble hanging that on his bedroom wall. But then O’Keefe applied the coup de grace. He gave RJ a bright yellow fireman’s helmet; one that he’d used himself for more than ten years, #323.
“When we were at RJ’s house he paid very close attention,” O’Keefe told RJ’s classmates. “You could tell he was concerned for the safety of his family, especially his little sister.”
RJ returned to his seat wearing his new gear and a broad grin.
O’Keefe had his audience’s full attention and used it to remind everybody that this weekend, when the clocks change, is also a good time to change batteries in home smoke alarms and carbon monoxide or radon detectors. October is Fire Prevention Month and O’Keefe and Co. would rather prevent them than fight them.
“Movies make it look like an exciting and dramatic job,” he said. “But we often deal with people who are having the worst day of their lives. Not only is that no fun, it’s dangerous.”
Point taken. But Thursday when O’Keefe dropped by Harding Middle School in his big red truck he left at least one sixth grader with the memory of a day that stands to rank as one of his better ones.