Porterville Firefighter Larry Segovia, who has been with the department for the past 10 years, is on a new mission, one he's proud to share with the community.
Segovia has published his first children’s book, “Is Fire a Tool?”, to help children recategorize fire as a tool and not a toy. Segovia’s 28-page children’s book is currently for sale on Amazon. He also has plans to continue educating children about fire through books and games.
“I was self published so really I just had to come up with the concept, which I already knew the message I wanted to get across,” said Segovia. “With the help from my wife, we just came up with something we thought was relatable and friendly to the child.”
With support from his wife Christina, Segovia put his pen to paper and in under a year his book was on the market. Segovia said Porterville Fire Chief Dave LaPere has also been a huge source of support for him through the entire process.
“He has been an amazing Chief Officer,” said Segovia. “He has been a big part of it, and has shown me nothing but pride and appreciation for the mission that I’m trying to achieve with this book and future books.”
Segovia found Nadya Popova, an illustrator who lives in Russia, and once the illustrations for his book were complete, and after some editing, he self published on Amazon within 11 months.
“(The idea for the book) came from the early days of my arson investigation career when I needed a tool to connect with small children and had the opportunity to educate them at their age level,” said Segovia. “I couldn’t find anything so I wrote a book.”
So far, the book has been received well. Segovia has given readings of his book in classrooms across Porterville, and is hoping to continue with his readings after COVID restrictions are lifted. He said the readings he has done were received well by both the children and the adults in the room.
“We are hoping to do book signings and readings with children, and possibly doing readings of the book during fire awareness and fire prevention week,” said Segovia.”What I was hoping the mission of the book would be is to help children categorize fire as a tool, and it did achieve that. Really this children’s book is equally designed for the adults who read to the child. It starts the dialect that we, at least commonly, don’t have with children. Children understand, because we teach them, fire is bad, but we really don’t go beyond that. This book gives us an opportunity to really help them understand the purpose of fire so that it is not just a bad thing but a tool, with an understanding that when they grow up it is something they will be dealing with on a daily basis.”
‘Is Fire a Tool?’ is targeted for children in kindergarten to second grade, but there's at least one more book on the way for older children, as well as the beginning of a mobile interactive electronic game for middle school students.
“We have a second book that is going to be coming out in 2021 that is focused on fire behavior,” said Segovia. “The first book was designed to help children categorize fire. The second story, which is labeled ‘Bill the Brown Bear Learns Fire, Wants to Run,’ is specifically designed to teach children how fire behaves. One of the number one things I hear from children is ‘I didn’t know it was going to do that.’ What I’m hoping now is that I can get them to categorize it and then take it a step further and let them know just how quickly it moves, how hard it is to control and that it does require a grown, mature person to contain it.
“We have a third concept under way that is more designed for the older kids, labeled ‘Chad the Tetrahedron.’ A tetrahedron is a concept that we use in the fire service to describe how fire starts. It includes heat, oxygen, fuel and a chemical reaction. That one is not going to be a book. It will be used on an iPad where they essentially play a little game where they will remove certain components of the tetrahedron to either eliminate fire or create it. It’s kind of like a science lesson. The goal is get them to categorize it, teach them how it behaves, and then show them the science of fire as they progress through the age ranges.”
Segovia said his message has been coming across clearly to children and he has seen the connections being made in the kids’ heads.
“I recognized that there was an opportunity that we could possibly teach kids to categorize it, along with the other dangerous tools that they already understand that they cannot touch and that they generally don’t touch until they’re adults. That for me was the missing link,” said Segovia. “With fire there was a disconnect with a lot of the children. If you’d ask them if it is a tool, they’d say no. If you’d ask them if they can use it when they grow up, they would say no. Once I was able to instill the lesson that it was in fact a tool, and get them to categorize fire as a tool with other dangerous things they can’t touch right now but can eventually, I could see little lights going off in their heads.”
Segovia’s book, “Is Fire a Tool?”, is available for purchase on Amazon. To find his book on Amazon, visit https://www.amazon.com/Fire-Tool-Larry-Segovia/dp/1096343177/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Is+Fire+A+Tool%3F+book&qid=1614795364&sr=8-1