The art of fire safety
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. ••