As soon as he rolls into the room, the children’s eyes light up.

Sparky is a celebrity wherever he goes. He visits schools, the mall and other events, and children flock to him.

And that is exactly what Greenwood fire officials want.

Sparky is the Greenwood Fire Department’s robot dog that firefighters use for educational efforts with local children. He teaches them about the importance of smoke detectors, how to stop, drop and roll, what to do when calling 911 and how to set up an emergency fire plan at home.

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At a cost of $13,000, Sparky wasn’t cheap, but he is well worth it, Greenwood Fire Department Lt. Tracy Rumble and Firefighter Bryan Brown said. Rumble and Brown go with Sparky when he visits local schools and events.

“If it was he and I talking, they may not have even heard what we said,” Brown said.

But they know children remember what Sparky says, since they recall it in future visits. They even had a call from a first-grader whose smoke detectors weren’t working, because Sparky told him to go home and check, Rumble said.

“This is the best tool we have,” Rumble said.

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Annie Goeller is managing editor of the Daily Journal. She can be reached at agoeller@dailyjournal.net or 317-736-2718.