April 9, 2005
A CD of songs about fire safety set to oldies tunes might not be Top 40 material, but people across the country are scrambling for a copy. “The Safety Hop” was produced five years ago by the Colorado Springs Fire Department.
About 25,000 copies have been distributed to a generation of local children who know “Under the Boardwalk” as “Under the Bad Smoke.” Wednesday, the story of 5-year-old Jasmine Otero, who knew from the CD to call 911 when her mother was having a seizure, aired on national television. Since then, the phones at the Fire Department have hardly stopped ringing with requests for copies of the CD. Steve Schopper, who produced the CD for the Fire Department, said a new round of calls came each time the segment on “The Early Show” on CBS aired in a new time zone. “It was pretty crazy how it came through like a time-zone tsunami, starting on the East Coast through Hawaii,” Schopper said. Some wanted one for their children, others wanted hundreds to hand out in their communities. A mayor in Minnesota wanted 1,000. “We’ve gotten calls from City Council people, ministers, fire chiefs, day-care providers and lots of grandmothers,” said Orlen Weaver, a community educator with the department. Extra help was brought in to answer the phones, and by Friday up to 5,000 people had called requesting more than 10,000 CDs. Some even called Weaver, who appeared in the televised report, at home. The problem is the department has only about 1,000 left. It costs the department about $2 to make and ship each CD, and although people have offered to buy them, it’s not an option. Because the original songs are copyrighted, the department can give away the CDs for educational purposes, but not sell them. As of Friday, officials didn’t know how they would pay for so many CDs, though Weaver said they want to get one to everyone who’s asked. They are considering asking recipients for voluntary donations. “We’re not saying we won’t do this. What we’re saying is we’ve got some problems to solve if we do it,” Weaver said. For now, he said, “We just smile and write their name down and say, ‘We’ll do what we can.’” Once they decide on funding, the CDs could be ready in three weeks, he said. Jasmine’s mother, Madeline Otero, would recommend “The Safety Hop” for any parent. “She plays it every day — still. I’ve even memorized the songs,” Otero said of Jasmine. “You wouldn’t think kids would pay attention, but you realize they are, because she learned quite a bit.” Jasmine has been unconcerned with the national publicity, her mother said. “For her, it’s nothing. She’ll say, ‘Uh-huh, uh-huh. Can I have a cookie?’” CONTACT THE WRITER: 476-1605 or email@example.com