Twelve-year-old Brianna Jokerst was boiling water to make pasta at her family’s Douglas Island apartment while her mom drove some friends home the evening of Aug. 5. In the process, Brianna accidentally turned on the wrong burner, setting a plastic food processor on fire. But she and her brother, Brandon, 9, got kudos from Capital City Fire & Rescue on Monday for knowing exactly how to handle the small fire.
When the fire started, Brianna instantly began delegating tasks, her mother, Carol Jokerst, said. Brianna told Brandon to put out the fire with the family’s fire extinguisher while she called 911.
Although the fire scared Brianna, she wasn’t nervous about calling 911 for the first time and was able to notify CCFR of the fire.
“I wasn’t scared about that,” Brianna said.
Brandon said he was “freaked out” by the stovetop fire but had read the fire extinguisher’s instructions a couple times in the past, just in case. It was his first time using one, but he put out the fire after a couple tries before firefighters got to the apartment. Nobody was hurt, and there was minimal damage done to the kitchen, Carol Jokerst said.
The kids were honored at a small ceremony Monday afternoon at the downtown fire station. Fire Chief Rich Etheridge presented them with certificates and thanked them for thinking quickly in a potentially dangerous situation.
“You guys did exactly the right thing — you used the fire extinguisher and called 911,” Etheridge told Brianna and Brandon.
In honor of their “hometown heroism,” the youngsters get to take a ride in a fire truck downtown and eat pizza with firefighters at the station. Etheridge said this was the first recognition in a new CCFR effort to publicly thank kids who do the right thing in fire situations “since we spend so much time teaching it in schools,” Etheridge said.
The fire department teaches fire safety in schools throughout the elementary grades, he said. The department teaches middle school students about the dangers of arson.
Fire Marshal Dan Jager said the outcome of the Jokerst home fire, as well as that of a Thursday incident in which a child noticed a stove fire at his Kanat’a Street home and quickly got his mother to call 911, gives him hope that kids are paying attention to safety lessons.
“We’re glad to see that as we go through the schools that they’re actually listening and are able to apply this stuff,” Jager said.
Carol Jokerst said she’s mostly relieved her children came out of the situation unharmed.
“The number one thing was I was so glad they didn’t get hurt and I was proud they knew what to do,” she said.
• Contact reporter Katie Moritz at 907-523-2294 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.