THORNDIKE — A band of parents with students in the Regional School Unit 3 pre-K program met at Thorndike Fire Station Oct. 23 for fire safety tips and to give kids an opportunity to see a fireman in full gear up close in honor of Fire Prevention Week.

Isaac Doughty of Unity Pre-K climbs into the driver’s seat Oct. 23 at the Unity Fire Station. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Unity Pre-K Parent & Family Engagement Group meets once a month on Zoom to hear about what is going on in their children’s classroom and to plan upcoming events, according to Waldo Community Action Partners Family Advocate Miranda Riley.

“These events can consist of either a guest speaker, a group activity or something special out in the community that aligns with their child’s development and learning,” she said. “Our goals are that families have fun, build relationships with each other and are engaged in their child’s educational journey.” 

Thorndike firefighter Shawn Bristol offers Charlotte Veazie, in butterfly shirt, and his daughter, Eliza Bristol, both of Unity Pre-K, a chance to try out an air mask Oct. 23. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Veteran firefighter Shawn Bristol said he has been with the Fire Department since 2010. He read the junior firefighters a story about Sparky the fire dog, then put on the protective gear and explained about each piece of equipment. Bristol also explained about what a pumper truck does and how it provides water for the fire truck to aid in fighting fires.

“This is mostly to familiarize them with the equipment,” Bristol said. “We want them to feel comfortable with all the equipment and not feel scared.”

Thorndike Fire Chief Tim Veazie talked about the specific tools a firefighter uses, including “turnout pants,” which protect from heat and chemicals. Also important are a fireman’s hood, jacket, helmet and air packs and masks, “so we can breathe when we go into the hot fire.”

The last thing they do before going into action is check that everything is OK, he said, showing the dial on the air pack. “The number tells us how long he has to breathe, or the amount of air he has before he has to grab a new one,” Veazie told the kids.

Riley said the Unity Pre-K Parent & Family Engagement Group is currently working on November events that can be done virtually and hopes to have a paint night to create a family tree. “When the snow arrives, we would like to have an outdoor event for fun in the snow,” she said.

Walker Elementary pre-K student George Parenteau tries on a Junior Firefighter helmet as his mom, Family Advocate for Waldo Community Action Partners Miranda Riley, looks on Oct. 23. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

According to WCAP’s website, the Early Childhood Program serves children and families in Waldo County from birth to 5 years old, with services delivered through a home visiting model, pre-K collaborations with area school districts, and centers in Belfast and Searsport. All programming is provided at no cost to the family, though some programs have income guidelines. For more information, visit

Pre-K students get a chance to try on firefighter gear Oct. 23 at Thorndike Fire Station. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Bristol gave a demonstration on using a fire extinguisher in the parking lot. “It’s powder,” Veazie said, “and it’s under a lot of pressure. The powder takes out one part of what makes a fire — the oxygen. That way the fire can’t breathe anymore.”

Fireman Shawn Bristol demonstrates how to use a fire extinguisher Oct. 23 at Thorndike Fire Station. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Charlotte Veazie poses at Thorndike Fire Station Oct. 23.

Unity Pre-K student Eliza Bristol tries on a junior firefighter helmet Oct. 23. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Pre-K students watch the fire extinguisher demonstration Oct. 23 at the Thorndike Fire Station. Photo by Fran Gonzalez

Walker pre-K student George Parenteau, center, has fun at Thorndike Fire Station Oct. 23. Photo by Fran Gonzalez