Twenty years ago, retired Indianapolis, IN Local 416 member Jeff Owens, a 30-year veteran fire fighter, did not set out to start a traveling fire safety program for kids, but that is exactly what happened after Owens and his wife adopted a black lab named Kasey from a family member.

Kasey was just a pup when the Owens brought her home, so Jeff did some basic training with her. During the training, he realized that the dog could learn how to stop, drop and roll and some other fire safety tasks.

“Just to see what would happen, I took Kasey to a program I had been asked to do for kids,” says Owens. “The kids responded so well to the dog that I decided to keep doing it.”

And the Kasey Program was born.

Now the Owens have three black labs that demonstrate stop, drop and roll, checking a door to see if it’s hot, how to crawl under smoke and what to do if you find a lighter or matches. During the program, Owens uses songs and other methods to help children learn safety messages.

Since the Kasey Program began when Owens was still an active fire fighter, it started small. Now that he has recently retired, Owens is traveling all over the country with the dogs.

“To my knowledge, the Kasey Program is the only traveling fire safety program in the country,” says Owens.

So far the program has held throughout Indiana, the East Coast and as far west as Houston, Texas. Owens hopes to expand the program’s reach to other states. And when he cannot fit a school into the schedule, he hopes to soon offer videos and other multi-media tools.