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'Mr. Rogers' to teach children about fire safety

Monday, July 26, 1999

By David Berger, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

Imagine you're a child stranded in a house being consumed by fire. You don't know where your parents are or how to escape. Suddenly, out of the smoke comes a creature with a mask that looks like Darth Vader's. Your first reaction is to run, usually deeper into the blaze.

This situation is not uncommon when firefighters attempt to rescue a child from a burning structure, a situation when they must use their breathing masks.

Leave it to Fred Rogers, though, with the help of some Pittsburgh firefighters, to teach children to overcome their fears.

This week will be Go-Stop-Go week on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood." It will attempt to teach children about controlling their impulses and learning the rules of safety.

As part of this theme, Rogers filmed a segment at the Lincoln-Lemington fire station. Rogers will use his ability of "taking what could be potentially scary or confusing to children and explaining it" to show that children don't need to fear firefighters, said David Newell of Family Communications Inc.

The firefighters will show children all the equipment they use, and Rogers will put on protective fire clothing and a breathing apparatus.

Also featured on Go-Stop-Go week will be a visit from Marc Brown, creator of the animated PBS series "Arthur." This will be a follow-up to an episode of "Arthur," in which Rogers starred as an animated aardvark version of himself.

Brown will show children how Arthur is drawn. Additionally, teen-ager Michael Yarmmush, the voice of Arthur, will bring a puppet Arthur that will interact with puppets in the Neighborhood of Make-Believe.

The fire station segment will air at 3 p.m. Thursday and will be repeated at 8 and 11 a.m. on Aug. 5. on WQED/WQEX.

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