4 little chiefs elate depts.
Essay winners take victory lap in fire trucks
BY JON POMPIA
THE PUEBLO CHIEFTAIN
The cute quotient of local fire departments increased significantly with the appointment of four adorable third-grade girls as chiefs.
And even if it was just for a day, it was groundbreaking.
“To my knowledge, this is the first time we’ve had four girls win the contest,” said Erik Duran, a spokesman for the Pueblo Fire Department.
The Fire Chief for a Day essay contest is a long-running partnership between city and rural fire departments, Pueblo-area McDonald’s restaurants and local schools.
Held in conjunction with National Fire Prevention Month, the endeavor invites third-graders in both local school districts to explain what being fire chief for a day would mean to them.
This year, the best of these essays were judged to have come from the pencils of Unique Ayala-Cordova (Sunset Park Elementary), Cheyanne Ortiz (host school Morton Elementary), Jordan Duhon (Sierra Vista Elementary) and Skyla Kopasz (Vineland Elementary).
Inside a jubilant Morton gymnasium, an upbeat Ronald McDonald served as host for an all-school assembly that saw the four pint-sized leaders recognized by (real) fire chiefs from Pueblo, Pueblo West and the Mesa.
And while each of the winners had their own reasons for wanting to be boss, service to others, including animals, was the common motive.
“I want to help put out a fire with them,” wrote Jordan. “It is important to get out of a fire. Clearly, that is why I want to be chief.”
“If people get their pets stuck in a tree,” Cheyanne noted, “I can help get them out of the tree. Then I can make my neighborhood a better place by putting out fires.
“If we had a big fire, I could put it out with the hose from the front yard.”
Skyla is particularly impressed with the versatility of firefighters.
“If there is a problem, they save the day. They help people who are injured and help people in car wrecks. They put out fires and get people to safety.
“I think firefighters are awesome.”
The most touching essay, from Unique, centered on a disaster that could have been much worse if not for the quick action of first responders.
“Two months ago, a terrible, tragic event happened. My dad woke up to my house burning down. It was the most horrible thing in the whole world. We lost everything.
“I want to be a fire chief because I would like to save people’s lives and their homes. Nobody should ever have to go through losing their home or things. It would be awesome to say you saved someone’s life or house.”
Unique made it a point to thank Conrad Orndoff, representing the Pueblo Rural Fire Department, for responding to that blaze in her Salt Creek home.
“It makes us feel real good, you bet,” Orndoff said after accepting Unique’s thanks.
With Ronald McDonald as a riding partner, the helmet-wearing little chiefs concluded the day by boarding a shiny new firefighting rig for a cross-town ride to the South Side McDonald’s for lunch.
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