On Tuesday, the Bartow County Fire Department honored the 6-year-old White Elementary School student for her “bravery” during the Sept. 4 incident.
“You have become an honorary firefighter for the Bartow County Fire Department. You hold the same rank as our chief does,” Bartow County Fire Marshal Bryan Cox told Blake. “... You’re going to have to make sure the school is fire safe, OK?”
Blake was home with her brothers — ages 16 and 10 — at the Williams Drive address in Cartersville when food the teenager had been cooking caught fire. Hearing the smoke detectors, the girl woke the younger brother and gathered the pets, taking them all outside where she met fire crews and provided vital information on the fire.
“[My brother] was going to make hot dogs even though my mom was gonna get some food. He left the house and the grease was on the stove. [My other brother] was asleep. I was awake. I went in the room to watch some TV. I heard the smoke detector. I went back out. I woke up [my brother] and got the dogs out of the house,” said Blake, who simply nodded when asked if she was scared when she saw the fire.
“This is what we want y’all to do, and because of what she done and her bravery and doing exactly what we do in saving life and property, she has become an honorary firefighter for the day for the Bartow County Fire Department,” Cox told Blake’s classmates.
For Blake’s mother, Nichole, her daughter’s actions were amazing.
“It was a grease fire. He was trying to deep fry some hot dogs, stepped outside on the porch. He went to the neighbor’s house to use the phone to call, which I was on my way back, I don’t know why. Within those couple of minutes, it happened,” Nichole Blake said. “Krystal just did the right thing. She was looking at cartoons, and she said she was going to the bathroom and, when she looked over toward the kitchen, she saw the fire. She went back and woke up my youngest son, got him out of the bed, got the dogs — it was a dog and three puppies — got them out.
“She knew exactly what to do. ... I am so proud of her. ... Because of her, everybody is safe. If it wasn’t for her, my 10-year-old could still asleep. It could have been worse. I just thank God that he was with her to help her do the right thing.”
Working smoke detectors and education — both things Krystal Blake had on her side — are top priorities for BCFD in helping keep the community safe.
“This just goes to reinforce the lessons we try to teach all children when we go into the schools. ... It starts that simple,” BCFD Chief Craig Millsap said. “Sometimes it’s hard to teach adults, get them to do the right things because they’re adults and they think they can handle any situation. But this just proves right here the education we are imparting on these children they are able to take back home, and even if the family isn’t able, they do the right thing. In this case, lives were saved.”
Tuesday’s recognition of Blake, who, along with her family, will attend the department’s annual Christmas dinner, was a first for the county’s agency.
“We’ve had some instances like this in the past, and we always thought, ‘You know, there’s some way we should be able to honor these young boys and girls to hopefully reinforce that message even more.’ So to show them how important it is in front of their peers and for them think, ‘Wow! That’s really something [honorable] being bestowed on them,’ it will make them learn it that much better,” Millsap said.
Nichole Blake agreed.
“Just for them to take the time out of their busy schedule to do this for her, I mean that is really special. They didn’t have to do it and they did,” she said. “... You see it makes her really happy, and the class, it sets an example for them. They see if you do good things, good things happen.”
According to information released Monday by the Northwest Georgia Chapter of the American Red Cross, local American Red Cross volunteers have responded to 27 home fires during the month of November and provided assistance to 29 families. The team of Red Cross volunteers helped coordinate assistance in the form of food, clothing, shelter and emotional support due to fire damage to the building. Last November, the Northwest Georgia Chapter responded to 13 single family fire calls for assistance.
Bartow County accounted for seven single-family home fires during November.
“We’re deeply saddened for those affected,” Chapter Executive Director Jeffrey Putnam said. “As we continue to provide support to those affected, we also encourage others to take action to minimize the risk of a home fire.”
The Red Cross recommends two easy steps to help protect your home and loved ones from a fire: get a smoke alarm and create a fire escape plan.
Both BCFD and Cartersville Fire Department offer free smoke detector programs. For more information, contact BCFD at 770-387-5151 or CFD at 770-387-5635.