The art of fire safety

(left to right) Luke Quinn, 18, Brandon Schwartz, 18, Ale­jandra Lon­don, 18, Al­exa Liv­ing­ston, 17, and Josie Rhoades, 17 in front of the fire pre­ven­tion mur­al they cre­ated at the fire sta­tion at Bustleton and Bowl­er, Janu­ary 23, 2013, Phil­adelphia, Pa. (Maria Pouch­nikova)

Five loc­al high school seni­ors who de­signed and painted safety-themed pan­els for a Bustleton fire­house were treated to some pizza, soda, ho­agies and thanks.

Lt. Wally Webber of En­gine 62 and Lad­der 34 at Bustleton Av­en­ue and Bowl­er Street said he had asked art teach­er Jam­ie Ulk­loss and her Phil­adelphia Academy Charter High School stu­dents to come up with painted pan­els for the fire­house to re­place four tiles that had faded over the years.

The re­quest was made in Oc­to­ber, said Ulk­loss. Four painted wood pan­els with fire pre­ven­tion themes signed by seni­ors Ale­jandra Lon­dono, Josephine Rhoades, Brandon Schwartz, Luke Quinn and Al­exa Liv­ing­ston were in­stalled Jan. 15, Webber said. 

The ac­ryl­ic-painted wood pan­els can be seen on the Bowl­er Street side of the build­ing, where they are per­man­ently af­fixed.

Ulk­loss said her stu­dents brain­stormed to come up with the ideas, and they de­signed each brightly colored pan­el them­selves.

The top left pan­el is a rep­res­ent­a­tion of the Phil­adelphia Fire De­part­ment in­signia. The top right con­tains the fa­mil­i­ar im­ages of a fire truck, a Dal­ma­tian and a fire plug. It’s also signed by the artists. The bot­tom left pan­el has ad­vice on what to do in a fire along with the im­age of a smoke de­tect­or. The fi­nal pan­el is in­struc­tion on how to use a fire ex­tin­guish­er.

Ulk­loss said the four painted pan­els were covered with clear var­nish to pro­tect them from the ele­ments

“It took forever to fin­ish,” Liv­ing­ston said dur­ing lunch in­side the fire­house Jan. 23.

After all, cre­ativ­ity takes time. Rhoades said the stu­dents worked 55 minutes at a time over two months to com­plete the pan­els. Hur­ricane Sandy put the artists a week be­hind.

Cre­ativ­ity also re­quired some re­design­ing and some ex­tra paint, too.

Mis­takes and aban­doned designs were whited out and re­painted, Quinn said. But there were oth­er mat­ters.

“Jo­sey was al­ways get­ting paint all over her­self,” the oth­er artists said of Rhoades.

The stu­dents’ lunch with fire­fight­ers also was at­ten­ded by Ulk­loss, prin­cip­al Megan Sim­mons and school CEO Larry Sper­ling. And, of course, it was in­ter­rup­ted briefly, but per­haps not un­ex­pec­tedly, by a call that al­most emp­tied the sta­tion. ••

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