The hot topic around the Monclova Township Fire Department is the preparation for a summer program to teach local children about safety.
The department has scheduled the week-long program, which targets children ready to enter kindergarten, for the end of June. There will be three morning classes that can each accommodate up to 25 children, and possibly an afternoon class, depending on the community's interest.
"We've wanted to do a program like this for several years," Deputy Fire Chief Jeff Bretzloff said. "As the township grows, we want to be able to provide this type of service."
The program, called "safety township," will cover a variety of ways that children can keep themselves safe. The classes will include discussions about how to deal with strangers, bicycle safety, water safety, how to escape from a fire, and the safe ways to interact with animals.
To develop the curriculum and teach the classes, Monclova Township firefighters are working with other local law enforcement agencies, including police officers from Maumee and Waterville Township.
Chief Bretzloff said the program is estimated to cost about $11,000 this year. The money will come from the township, contributions from local businesses, and revenue from the program's $20-per-child registration fee.
The township trustees pledged $10,000 to the program this year. Half the money will be used for operating costs, and the other half will be put toward applying for a grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
The department applied for a grant for about $49,700 to fund the purchase of a multi-purpose escape trailer that children could use to practice getting out of a building in an emergency.
"It's a two-story trailer we can fill with non-toxic smoke. The kids can escape by climbing down ladders," Chief Bretzloff said.
The federal agency will notify the department within the next year whether it will receive the grant.
The department recently sent letters to local businesses asking with help funding the safety program. Chief Bretzloff said that if the department does not receive enough money to fund the program, the fire department may return to the trustees to request more money.
"The program is going on one way or another this year," he said. "We'd like to continue the program every year."