Most elementary schools have programs to teach kids about fire prevention and safety. But the kids in Indiana get to learn about these things in a much more fun way, thanks to retired firefighter Jeff Owens and his black Labs.
Owens began The Kasey Program in 1995, and has been training and teaching for the last 20 years. It started with the original Kasey, who has since died. There are currently three black Labs in the program – senior KD, 4-year-old Kohl, and 14-week-old Kali. KD will soon be retiring, and Kohl will be taking over.
The dogs show kids how to check a door to see if it’s hot, how to crawl below smoke, and how to stop, drop and roll. They are shown by Owens what to do if they find lighters and matches, and told to make sure they have two exits from every room and a place to meet up once everyone gets out.
The firefighter uses songs to help the kids remember what they learn. So far The Kasey Program has saved at least 15 lives. The program has been mostly limited to schools in the Indianapolis area, but Owens and the dogs will soon be on the road to visit schools nationwide.
“I can prevent a firefighter from having to pull a child out,” Owens says. “And I know how traumatizing it is to the firefighters, let alone the trauma sustained by the families. So that’s what drives me to go out and teach as much as I do.”