City Social Magazine

MAR-APR 2018

City Social Magazine in Baton Rouge, Louisiana

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R E A D U S o N L I N E A T W W W . C I T Y S o C I A L . C o M 24 The Firefighters Ball is back! Long overdue, the once-annual event was held for the first time in 40+ years in February. Better still, City Social recently had the opportunity to talk with Fire Inspector Jeremy Gerald of the Baton Rouge Fire Department about the 2018 Firefighters Ball, its organizers, highlights and the reasons it is invaluable. The event was put together by the Fire Prevention Committee, a nonprofit group that consists of individuals from Louisiana Fire Extinguisher, the Exchange Club of Baton Rouge and other organizations. In keeping with tradition, the ball was held in the Heidelberg Room of the Baton Rouge Hilton; the Heidelberg Room was a long-time host to the Firefighter's Ball in the mid-1900s, making it the ideal place to host the 2018 Firefighter's Ball. Among the highlights were speeches given by Fire Inspector Jeremy Gerald and Rowdy Gaudet, who addressed such topics as fire safety and prevention and the value of men and women who serve as firefighters. Also of note was live entertainment provided by Chris LeBlanc, Baton Rouge Pipes and Drums and Dr. Samrat Mukerjee, who joined the band to pay tribute to the late Tom Petty by playing "Mary Jane's Last Dance." The performance resulted in a standing ovation and a well-deserve toast to the rock 'n' roll legend. Even more exciting, he notes, was the chance to reestablish a sense of camaraderie and community between firefighters from fire stations all across the Greater Baton Rouge Area, and the relationship between firefighters and the communities they serve. The night shined a light on this commitment, one made by firefighters of the area from their first day to their last, and paid unspoken tribute to all firefighters in attendance. Of special note, however, was the honor bestowed on the oldest and two youngest firefighters, Chief Ed Smith and Recruits Kat Kleinpeter and Josh Averett, respectively, present at the ball. The 3 firefighters were asked to cut a cake crafted in preparation for the event. It is this kind of tribute which is at the heart of the Firefighters Ball, as is the need to further awareness and raise funds in support of fire safety education and overall prevention. Fire safety education for people of all ages remains paramount in respect to fire prevention, Gerald affirms, especially in light of the 10 fire-related deaths (including both adults and children) that took place in just the first few days of 2018. For children, the most important rule when encountering fire is to "stop, drop and roll." For adults, it is to consistently check smoke detectors and ensure that everyone in a household has an escape plan and knows of an identified, safe place to meet. The Fire Prevention Committee's efforts to reboot the Firefighter's Ball as an ongoing tradition, hopes to revitalize the interest in the history of the Baton Rouge Fire Department and express respect for all firefighters, past and present, and gratitude for the selflessness such men and women exhibit on a consistent basis, a sentiment we should all share. In light of such selflessness exhibited by firefighters, Gerald included, it is at once humbling and rewarding to have spoken with him about the event and learn how the organizers came together in order to put the event on. As residents of Greater Baton Rouge ourselves, we applaud those involved and eagerly await news of the 2019 Firefighters Ball. 2018 Firefighters Ball Photos by Fire Inspector Jeremy Gerald

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