By David Eck
EVENDALE - When firefighters give fire safety and other presentations to young children, the kids often leave with small coloring booklets, pencils and plastic toy fire helmets.
But a group of firefighters from across Hamilton County wants to provide children with a more tangible memento: a hard-cover, full-color children's book that reinforces safety lessons.
The newly-formed Firefighters for Families has teamed up with an Amberley Village author to produce what they hope will be a series of books on safety topics.
Depending on funding, they plan to have the first fire safety book ready for distribution by fall. Plans are to produce 200,000-250,000 copies of the first edition.
"We're actually going to be doing all safety issues,'' Cincinnati fire specialist Robert Smith said. "We want to (get) the books in the hands of every family and every kid we can get a hold of, free of charge.''
Fire departments in the project are Cincinnati, Sharonville, Evendale, Blue Ash, Little Miami Joint Fire and Rescue, and Anderson, Colerain and Sycamore townships.
The books will be written in English and Spanish.
"It really gets all the points across,'' children's author Miriam Younger said. "We try to get the kids involved. We try to make the kids feel like they are in charge of fire safety.''
Younger, who has five young children, came up with the idea of producing a children's book and approached the firefighters.
"I don't think there's anything out there done by firefighters,'' Smith said. "This is going to be a first for something like this. You've never had firefighters come together and have a book mass produced.''
The firefighters hope to raise $1 million for the first book. The project will operate strictly on sponsorships, donations and grants from companies, individuals and foundations.
"I think it's better education for the whole family," Smith said. "You're going to have parents looking at the books with the children. That's the whole idea of this book ... to reach out and have the family work together.''
Donations for the project can be sent to: Firefighters for Families, 6904 Murray Ave., Cincinnati 45227.
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