A publication of the Kentucky Center for Public Service Journalism

Meadowthorpe fifth-grader Katie Bowden to serve as Lexington’s honorary junior fire chief

Meadowthorpe Elementary’s Katie Bowden will represent Lexington schoolchildren as the city’s 2017-18 junior fire chief, an honorary year-long position.

Wearing an official badge and a kid-sized fire department uniform, Katie showed her winning poster to Chief Kristin Chilton and read her essay aloud for fellow fifth-graders gathered in the gym for the Oct. 9 ceremony.

“It’s really important for our young people to help get the message out,” Chilton said before pinning on Katie’s badge.

This year’s nationwide theme for Fire Prevention Week is “Every Second Counts: Plan 2 Ways Out!” Katie’s poster featured a list of common fire causes and prevention tips, and her 3-D illustration showed people fleeing out the window of a house. “If one exit is blocked or burning, then you have to have a second alternative,” she explained.

Read Katie’s essay

Each fall, Lexington’s Division of Fire & Emergency Services selects a different elementary school for its essay/poster contest, and the school’s staff chooses the fifth-grader for junior fire chief status. The honoree should be a model citizen and a good student who can miss some school time and be comfortable in front of crowds.

Ten-year-old Katie is active in her Girl Scout troop and in Meadowthorpe’s recycling and garden clubs. She also enjoys singing and theater.

“I’m a bit nervous but mostly excited. I’m looking forward to learning about all the ways they prepare and put out fires,” Katie said after Monday’s kickoff.

Her schedule for the week included tours of Fire Station 1 and the training academy, the downtown Fifth Third Bank building known as Big Blue, and Blue Grass Airport. She was also to appear on local news shows and present her poster at a city council meeting.

For questions about the junior fire chief program, please contact firefighter Greg Gerton.

Fire Prevention Week, which was established in 1922 to commemorate the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, is the longest-running public health and safety observance on record.


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