Orlando firefighters challenge students to amp up summer reading goals

Department inspires students through Books and Badges program

ORLANDO, Fla. – The Orlando Fire Department is working to encourage kids to amp up their summer reading goals with its Books and Badges program.

The program started nearly three years ago and partners with the Orlando Police Department to visit 78 different locations in the city.

OFD Lt. Jason Alicea stopped by the Kidzone Learning Preschool to read a few books and show off a fire engine. He said it gives children the chance to see first responders in a different light.

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"It gives us the opportunity to see kids and interact with them in a different setting. This is not an emergency. It's lighthearted. It's a chance for us to set an example of reading books," Alicea said. "In a scary situation, a lot of times they might be too afraid to respond to us as we're approaching. We don't want to be intimidating to them, so if they see us in everyday walks of life, they're more likely to turn to us in a emergency situation."

During the visit, Alicea read "Clifford the Firehouse Dog" to the students.

"The Orlando Fire Department emphasizes community outreach, not just this program, but many other programs. For me, personally, it's important to be a part of an organization like that and I look forward to continuing to do that," Alicea said.

About 20 firefighters are involved in Books and Badges.

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