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By Greg Bellavia | May 27, 2005

The public service section. More than horror, cult or action, the public service section of Blockbuster was always a favorite for my high school buddies and I. The films were free because of their educational content and while a good idea in theory more often than nought provided hilarious fodder for drunken smart a***s at no cost. There was the one on how to set up a bank account, the one teaching kids about litigation and our favorite of all “Where Did I come From?” an animated epic teaching children the birds and the bees (along with an ambiguous duck…you really have to see it.) While the public service section is long gone, Wes Coles’ “Fire Safety with the Safety Sarge” would have been a welcome entry, a heartfelt if at times unsuccessful attempt to teach children about fire safety.

Much like many of the other public service videos we have all been forced to endure throughout grade school, “Fire Safety” is a series of skits enacted by the Safety Sarge (Coles) teaching about the perils of fire. While some advice is something that all kids need to know (stop, drop and roll) other lessons fail to hit the mark. There is a lesson regarding how forest rangers put out forest fires but such a digression seems like it would be lost on such a young audience. Coles warns against standing on rickety furniture to change smoke detector batteries and why people shouldn*t smoke in bed, not realizing that most children watching this should

A. Have parents who manage to keep the smoke detector working.



The numerous asides such as watching the Sarge marvel over his own grilling skills or rolling around on the ground set to funny music are well meaning but distracting.

In the end, despite the video’s low production value and scattershot approach to educating children, Coles has his heart in the right spot in his attempt to educate a younger audience regarding the perils of fire. While not always successful, “Fire Safety” is a nice alternative to the large amount of completely uneducational crap on television kids manage to watch these days and should provide at least a smile or two from the older crowd.

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