The Ashland library and Ashland Fire & Rescue are teaming up May 5-12 to promote fire safety for kids.

The Ashland library and Ashland Fire & Rescue are teaming up May 5-12 to promote fire safety for kids.

"Firewise" week is designed to raise awareness about wildfires and prevention and will include activities, story times and talks with local firefighters.

"It's our first time doing something like this, but I hope it will be the first of many," said Ali True, Firewise communities coordinator for Ashland Fire & Rescue, who organized the event.

"Wildfire awareness is really important. We live in a place with wildfires, and through education we can empower kids."

True said coordinating with the library was ideal.

"Kids bring their parents and parents bring their kids. This helps us meet a population we wouldn't normally get to talk with directly: busy parents."

Monday's story time at 6:30 p.m. will kick off the event with a visit by retired Forest Service employee Lyn Anderson and special guest Smokey Bear. Anderson will talk about wildland fires and read the true story of Smokey, the orphan bear rescued after a wildfire in New Mexico, who has been a mascot for the U.S. Forest Service for more than 50 years. Tuesday's 11:30 a.m. and Wednesday's 10:30 a.m. story times will include fire safety stories read by children's librarian Denise Wilson and a visit with an Ashland firefighter in full gear.

Posters created by fourth-graders for a children's Firewise program contest will be on display at the library. Students from Helman, Walker and Bellview schools created the posters to educate the public about the "Firewise 5," simple and affordable things families can do to increase fire safety around the home:

Make sure your address is visible Keep grass and weeds cut low Rake leaves and debris at least 3 feet from your house Keep your roof and gutters clean to protect from embers Know where to find information about area wildfires

The posters also include helpful local resources, including the Wildfire Hotline at 541-552-2490 and Ashland's AM 1700 Emergency Broadcast station.

True said she spoke with many of the students and was pleased with their eagerness and how much they already knew about wildfires.

"A lot of these kids have seen the effects of some pretty serious fires. They were really knowledgeable, and with programs like this they know they can make a difference and have a real role in preventing wildfires," she said.

The Ashland Children's Library has a number of great books for a variety of ages. For interested families, the librarians suggest the following:

"No Dragons for Tea: Fire Safety for Kids," by Jean Pendziwol. A little girl meets a friendly dragon and invites him to join her for tea. But their party is suddenly interrupted when the dragon sneezes and sets the table on fire. The spunky little girl knows just what to do, and she teaches her new friend to be fire smart, too. "Wildfire," by Taylor Morrison. This is a great informational book for older kids. The book offers an overview of people involved in fighting wildfires and the techniques and equipment they use. Detailed illustrations, maps and paintings help explain the natural conditions that lead to fires and how firefighters work. "John Blair and the Great Hinckley Fire," by Josephine Nobisso. Based on a true story, Blair, an African-American railway porter, was a hero during the 1894 firestorm that killed more than 400 people living in the remote Minnesota backwoods. On a train trapped near the blaze and loaded with people, Blair leads passengers to the safety of a swamp. An epilogue explains how the Great Hinckley Fire gave rise to the forest-fire monitoring program in the United States.

The Ashland Branch Library is at 410 Siskiyou Blvd. For more information, call the Children's Department at 541-774-6995 or visit www.JCLS.org.

Angela Decker is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Reach her at decker4@gmail.com.