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Fire departments raising money for new safety house

In first week, campaign raises half of $50,000 needed

DIXON – The time has come for the fire department to retire its child safety house.

The house, which is used to teach Lee County children fire safety, is more than 25 years old and showing signs of wear and tear, Dixon City Fire Chief Tim Shipman said.

Because city budgets are tight, Lee County fire departments, spearheaded by departments in Dixon and Amboy, are raising $50,000 to buy a new one. They are about halfway there, Shipman said.

The child safety house is used primarily at schools or events; it is geared toward children younger than 14 or people with special needs, and reaches about 10,000 children a year, he said.

The new one will be more interactive than this one, which was donated by the Lions Club more than two decades ago.

For example, firefighters teach children to check doorknobs to see if they're hot, an indication of whether there's a fire. The doorknobs on the new house actually will heat up.

"The [safety house] has been a successful tool in the past, ... [but] the way children learn nowadays is so different. It's so much more interactive, and we're trying to do that."

The safety house, actually a small trailer, will allow firefighters to teach home fire safety and how to exit a home if a fire breaks out – an actual hands-on experience, not just a lecture, he said.

The new trailer also will have heating and air conditioning, and so can be used at any time, and it also may have stadium seating for video showings or other simulations.

The campaign just started last week, but early donations, such as $10,000 from BorgWarner and $4,000 from Lee County United Way, have put the campaign at the halfway mark. Donors will have logos on the safety house.

If more than $50,000 is raised, the rest will be used for further safety house upgrades, Shipman said. Dixon City Fire will be responsible for its maintenance.

To donate

Donations may be made to the Dixon Firefighter's Charitable Association, Fire Safety Trailer, 210 S. Hennepin Ave., Dixon, IL 61021.

Call Dixon Fire Chief Tim Shipman at 815-288-4337 or email him at for more information.

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