Ten-year-old Reese Tumlinson is outfitted and ready for duty as Lexington’s 2022 junior fire chief. “My friends were cheering me on, and I’m excited to be the boss,” she said after the badge-pinning ceremony at The Academy for Leadership at Millcreek Elementary.
Reese’s busy schedule features tours of fire stations, visits to the Lexington Fire Department’s training academy and a nearby horse farm, and appearances on TV and radio news shows. Her message is this year’s theme for Fire Prevention Week: “Fire Won’t Wait. Plan Your Escape!”
“You need a plan to get out of your house if there’s a fire,” said Reese, who designed a colorful, detailed poster with multiple exit routes. Her drawing – which directs family members to meet up at a certain tree in their front yard -- meshed well with her thorough, two-page essay. Millcreek’s staff picked Reese’s entry from among some 75 fifth graders participating in the school’s contest.
Guidance specialist Jessica Davis, who has known Reese since kindergarten, called her a courageous, creative young woman who will inspire the community. Reese also shared a bit of her story – starting about a year ago when doctors diagnosed her with scoliosis. “When they gave me the brace, I didn’t want to wear it because it hurt,” she recalled. Even now, facing surgery for her back condition, Reese is focused and brave. “It gives me a challenge to go through,” she said simply.
Chief Jason Wells expects Reese’s strong spirit will serve her well as junior fire chief as she spreads the safety message to a wide audience. “As firefighters, we know if we can reach the children, we often can reach their parents and friends,” Wells said. “And often, our junior fire chief can reach children better than we can.”
Did you know? Each fall before Fire Prevention Week, the Lexington Fire Department chooses a different elementary school to hold a fifth grade contest, and the winner serves as junior fire chief for a week.
Posted Oct. 10, 2022