Minions Teach Students About Fire Safety10/20/2022
Picture it: As you drive down the road, you see a house on fire up ahead. As you get closer, you notice that clowns are putting the fire out.
This was no circus act. Wylie Fire Rescue had just finished performing one of their fire safety skits when they had to report to an emergency call. There was no time to change out of their clown costumes.
That was over 15 years ago.
Wylie Fire Rescue performs a different skit each year to teach elementary students about fire safety. “Every year, we educate over 5,000 Wylie ISD students with our program,” Captain Jackson said.
For the past 21 years, Wylie Fire Rescue has been performing these skits to promote fire safety.
After four or five years of being clowns, they decided to change their themes yearly. This year’s skit is based off of the popular Minions movies.
“We try to keep it relevant to what the kids are into,” Battalion Chief James Brown said. “We chose Minions because it’s popular with kids and something they'll be attentive to.”
The firefighters encouraged audience participation in their fire safety and prevention skit.
And boy was he right. Throughout the play, the Minions’ boss, Gru, portrayed by Firefighter Zack Hawkes, would exit the stage and the Minions would get into some sort of trouble. Upon his return, Hawkes would ask the student audience if the minions behaved themselves and they were quick to respond.
“They keep the characters in line,” Hawkes said.
Hawkes, a Wylie ISD alum, has participated in the fire safety programs for five years.
“I love the involvement of the kids,” he said. “Every year, we get more and more wanting to answer questions. They are very receptive.”
Zach Hawkes, pictured at right, performs as Gru in the fire safety and prevention skit at Smith Elementary, where he attended elementary school.
Wylie Fire Rescue performs their program at all Wylie ISD elementary schools. Hawkes’, a 2016 graduate of Wylie High, was in the first class of students to attend Smith Elementary.
“It’s cool to get to do this at the school you went to,” Hawkes said.
These actors are “professionally trained” by the Arizona Fire and Burn Education Association. Every year they travel to Arizona to attend a characterization conference.
Wylie Fire Rescue performs their Minions skit at Smith Elementary to kinder through second graders Oct. 19.
“We share ideas, network and learn new ways to promote fire safety,” Wylie Fire Captain Ray Jackson said.
Complete with real walls, doors and even lights, the Fire Prevention Education team built the entire set too.
“Every year, we redo the same set to fit the theme of our new production,” Chief Brown said.
The fire safety skit focuses on teaching exit drills in the home, stop drop and roll and calling 911.
“My favorite part is the Q&A after the show; it really shows they retained what they learned,” Chief Brown said.