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Jackson Street second grader steps up to fix fire hydrant flag he broke

  • Northampton Fire Chief Brian Duggan and Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski attach a flag to a hydrant Tuesday at the school. The flag came off while Parker was playing with it. Jackson Street School Principal Gwen Agna is in the background.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Northampton Fire Chief Brian Duggan and Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski attach a flag to a hydrant Tuesday at the school. The flag came off while Parker was playing with it. Jackson Street School Principal Gwen Agna is in the background.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag he damaged while playing with it. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag he damaged while playing with it.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski gets a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school after it came off the hydrant when he played with it.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski gets a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school after it came off the hydrant when he played with it.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, second from left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz, left, Tuesday at the school. Firefighter Matt Superba looks on. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school that he damaged while playing with it.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, second from left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz, left, Tuesday at the school. Firefighter Matt Superba looks on. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school that he damaged while playing with it.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz describes equipment on a fire truck for Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, center, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Bryan Duggan replace a fire hydrant flag he damaged while playing. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

    Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz describes equipment on a fire truck for Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, center, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Bryan Duggan replace a fire hydrant flag he damaged while playing.
    JERREY ROBERTS Purchase photo reprints »

  • Northampton Fire Chief Brian Duggan and Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski attach a flag to a hydrant Tuesday at the school. The flag came off while Parker was playing with it. Jackson Street School Principal Gwen Agna is in the background.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag he damaged while playing with it. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jackson Street School second grader Parker Aimi-Starkoski gets a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz Tuesday at the school. Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school after it came off the hydrant when he played with it.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, second from left, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski get a tour of a fire truck by Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz, left, Tuesday at the school. Firefighter Matt Superba looks on. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Brian Duggan replace a hydrant flag at the school that he damaged while playing with it.<br/>JERREY ROBERTS
  • Northampton Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz describes equipment on a fire truck for Jackson Street School second graders Willem Lobley, center, and Parker Aimi-Starkoski Tuesday at the school. Earlier, Parker helped Chief Bryan Duggan replace a fire hydrant flag he damaged while playing. <br/>JERREY ROBERTS

About a month ago, the Jackson Street second-grader was playing after school on a fire hydrant near the school’s soccer field when he accidentally broke the attached metal rebar flag that helps city firefighters locate hydrants under the snow.

“I was doing it because I was bored,” said Parker, during an interview Tuesday at his school. “I was bending it and it just broke.”

Instead of hiding his mistake, Parker reached out to Greg Baker, a counselor in the Hampshire Regional YMCA’s after-school program at Jackson Street, who suggested the boy might want to tell school Principal Gwen Agna what had happened.

In a letter Parker wrote to Agna the next day, he did just that.

“I felt real sorry and I will do anything you need to help fix it,” Parker wrote. “I will come talk to you after school at 3:15.”

Agna was struck by Parker’s willingness to take responsibility. “I got this note and I thought, Wow! Here’s someone who stepped up,” she said.

Agna decided they should contact the city’s fire and maintenance departments to find out what could be done to fix the hydrant flag.

On Tuesday, they got their answer: Fire Chief Brian Duggan arrived after school with a wrench and two replacement flags, eager to meet the student who had been big enough to admit a mistake.

“I thought it was really, really great that you stood up and took responsibility,” Duggan told Parker, as they headed outside to look at the hydrant.

“At first I felt nervous,” admitted the wiry, brown-eyed second-grader. “I was worried I might get in trouble.”

Duggan explained that the metal flags help firefighters locate hydrants that can become buried in snow, “so we can use them if there’s a fire.

“That’s why it’s important that you let us know what happened to this one,” Duggan told the boy.

“You should probably have a shovel with you in the winter,” Parker said.

“Oh, we do,” Duggan replied. “We have shovels on every one of our vehicles. The best thing is if people take care of the hydrants on their streets.”

It took only a few minutes for the pair to select the right-sized flag, undo the big bolts on the side of the hydrant behind the school, then screw the new flag tightly into place.

While Parker inspected their work, Duggan made a call on his walkie-talkie. “How would you like to get a tour of a fire engine?” he asked.

Parker’s answer was a smile.

For the next 15 minutes or so, he and fellow second-grader Willem Lobley — who was lucky enough to be on the scene — explored all facets of Engine #2, guided by city Fire Capt. Sean Denkiewicz and firefighter Matt Superba.

They watched as compartments on the truck were opened to reveal compressed air tanks, hoses of various sizes and the tools firefighters use to pull people out of wrecked cars.

Parker was particularly impressed by a set of axes Denkiewicz showed them.

“My mom has one of those to chop wood,” the boy said.

With the hydrant flag fixed and the engine headed back downtown, Agna wondered if Parker might want to write up a report for the rest of the school about his experience.

“How about I talk about it when we have our assembly?” Parker said.

“That’s a good idea,” Agna agreed. “Especially because we don’t want anyone to make this mistake again.”

Comments
Legacy Comments1

What a great little guy! And congrats to his mom (and Ms. Agna) for raising such a stand up child. The one lesson I taught my child - not to lie, ever - (I also have a great child)!

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