Jacob and Jonah Robinson of Seaholm High School are educating the community about donating their homes to the Birmingham Fire Department.
In November of 2016, Rachel and Steve Robinson purchased a home for their family in Birmingham that needed to be demolished. But before they tore down their house, their twin sons, Jacob and Jonah, decided it was time to call the Birmingham Fire Department.
With their mother’s encouragement, the boys contacted the fire department to see if they needed homes to practice their skills and the fire department immediately seized this opportunity.
For three days, firefighters used the Robinson’s home to portray real-life scenarios by using artificial smoke and mannequins posing as victims, which enabled them to constitute game plans for an actual fire.
Jacob and Jonah were invited to enter their house with the firefighters while it was filled with artificial smoke to learn more about fire safety, allowing them to witness firsthand what firefighters do daily.
“It was such a cool and fun experience to share with my family,” Jacob said. “We got to see them break in windows, fill the house with smoke, their gear and the firetrucks.”
Although this was a great experience for both the Robinson family and the firefighters, the fire department informed the boys that most of their rookies only train in their training tower and not in actual houses.
“The training tower is great, but you can only do so many scenarios,” Birmingham Fire Department chief Paul Wells said. “It’s always good to have a fresh, new building – especially a residential building – where we don’t know the layout.”
After the dust settled and their new home was finished, the now 16-year-old twins decided to immerse themselves in this cause and advocate the need for houses to aid the firefighters in training techniques.
“We felt that it was such a fun experience that benefited our local fire department, we wanted more people to know about this opportunity,” Jacob said.
Jacob and Jonah worked alongside one of the Birmingham Fire Department’s captains, Tom Hughes, who has been instrumental in getting this program off the ground.
The boys also designed flyers detailing what the firefighters would be implementing in each house, and how people can donate their home.
Along with aiding their local firefighters, the twins are active in the Jewish community. They belong to Temple Israel and have been volunteering at Yad Ezra since they were old enough to walk.
“A big part of Judaism is the sense of community,” Jacob said. “We are always connected, and this is our community. I feel like connecting people with the fire department and allowing others to see what they do allows us to bond more as a community and ultimately creates a more effective environment.”
Since the boys started handing out flyers to local businesses and architects, the fire department has now been able to practice in a second home.
“It’s great to see two young boys have this idea,” Wells said. “I’m looking forward to seeing more homes come in to help us out.”
Jacob and Jonah aim to grow their campaign, and hope people in their community will think twice before demolishing their home.
“It’s nice to know that we’re helping the people who help us,” Jonah said. “It’s a great cause and I’m glad to be a part of it.”