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City Fire Department Receives Grant From Union Pacific Foundation

Contact: Hannah Wenninger, City of Natchitoches

Phone: (318) 352-2772





City Fire Department Receives Grant From Union Pacific Foundation

Natchitoches – The City of Natchitoches’ Fire Department was recently awarded a grant from the Union Pacific Foundation in the amount of $25,000.  The Union Pacific Foundation takes pride in helping communities across the nation strive, by prioritizing funding for projects focused on the following criteria:  safety, workforce development, and community spaces. 

In 2019, through partnership with the Cane River National Heritage Area, the Natchitoches Fire Department submitted an application to the Union Pacific Foundation with an emphasis on public safety through education on parish wide fire prevention and safety.  The objective, if funded, was to purchase research-based and effective training tools to ensure community risk reduction for parish citizens, specifically children in daycares, Kindergarten to college students, and senior citizens. 

In order to meet this goal, Chief of Fire Prevention, Kory Leo was able to purchase a new costume for mascot Sparky the Fire Dog, an interactive Sparky Robot, and a Hazard House. Although, Sparky the Fire Dog has been around for many years, this character still remains effective when bridging the apprehension some children have towards people in uniform.  In the event of an emergency, children will relate Sparky to the firefighters and be less fearful of them.  The Sparky robot is child size and uses a robot voice modifier as the firefighters talk and interact with students on protecting themselves and their families from fire.  The final component, the Hazard House, is an electronic module imitating a house with a family and provides a more realistic example with visual aids on how to respond with proper safety procedures in an emergency situation. 

The Fire Department has had much success utilizing these tools during school visits amongst the city and parish, while also attending community events which include:  Witch Way to Main Street, the Natchitoches Christmas Festival, the Natchitoches Parish Fair, and most recently the Home and Garden Expo. Chief Kory Leo stated, “The purchase of these tools and resources for the City of Natchitoches has been a game changer not only for our department, but how we are able to reach the community effectively in our fire prevention efforts.” 

The Natchitoches Fire Department’s Fire Prevention Program directly correlates with Union Pacific’s mission to build safe, prosperous and vibrant communities.  Thanks to Union Pacific Foundation and their investment, the city now has up to date resources to educate and prepare our citizens for an emergency event. 


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