FRISCO (CBS11) – Clowns are getting a bad name these days thanks to a series of pranks across the country, including North Texas. That’s putting limitations on programs first responders have been using for years.READ MORE: TEA Releases Guidelines For Keeping Students, Teachers Safe From COVID-19
Firefighters in Frisco have a whole mock city called, Safety Town to teach kids fire prevention. But like a lot of local departments, they also use fire clowns when they visit schools. Now some schools are cancelling shows because they fear the clowns could do more harm than good.
Just like the Dalmatian, the fire clown has become a powerful symbol to get through to kids about the importance of fire safety.
“And it actually sits very low on our firetrucks, so when the kids are sitting in the backseat of their parents’ car, and they pull up next to the firetruck, this is what they see,” Frisco Fire Captain Kevin Haines said pointing out a logo featuring a clown.
In Frisco, firefighters bring kids to Safety Town where they learn a variety of safety lessons. But just as important are the fire clown shows at elementary schools every October for Fire Prevention Month. Now after a series of high profile clown pranks several schools across North Texas are asking fire departments to keep their clowns away.
“We want to make sure that we don’t add to any of the hysteria in the public,” Haines said.READ MORE: 'Every Day Is An Opportunity To Change The Narrative': Plano Police Officer Helps Needy Family Escape Heat, Pays For Hotel
In the last few days, clown incidents from Fort Worth to Rockwall have prompted a surge in clown sightings reported to police out of fear. As a result MedStar is pulling the clowns used on Halloween to help children with medical needs go trick-or-treating. Schools in Prosper and Frisco have cancelled on-campus presentations by firefighters that include clowns.
“We were in the schools for a fun educational environment to try to get back down to a very fun level to where it’s not very authoritative and non-intimidating,” said Haines.
For those schools that choose to continue to use the programs, firefighters are having their clowns remove their makeup and costumes in between performances.
“We just want to make sure that if we’re out in the public outside of the environment we’re supposed to be in or that we’re expected to be in, that we’re able to not create any concern or any panic,” said Haines.
The departments that have had cancellations tell us they still plan to maintain their clown programs and let individual schools opt out if they choose, with the hope that next year the trend in clown pranks will be over.MORE NEWS: 1 Person In Serious Condition Following 3-Vehicle Crash On I-30 In East Fort Worth
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