Lt Don Zimmerman, President of Mentor Safety Village, standing in front of Mentor Fire Department’s Water Safety Trailer

The trailer is the vehicle our Mentor Fire Fighters built themselves to teach water safety to the city’s third graders enrolled in both public and private schools.

In 2002, the Mentor Fire Fighters’ Union founded a non-profit, 501[c][3] entity, the Mentor Firefighters’ Historical Association, located on Jackson street in The Old Firehouse.  Part of the building houses Mentor Safety Village, Where Children Learn Safety for Life ™.

The Water Safety Trailer is the latest tool the fire fighters use in presenting interactive lessons of preventive safety to our children.  Funding came from a grant from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Division of Watercraft.  But it was the fire fighters themselves who put sweat equity into building the trailer during their off hours.

To see photos of fire fighters constructing the Water Safety Trailer, go to


After the first successful season of instructing children, it looked like there’d be no second season.  Neither the City of Mentor nor the Mentor City Schools could afford to pay the cost of busing third graders to the Water Safety Trailer.

Determined to reach the children, the Mentor Fire Fighter’s Union paid half of the $2600 cost, and the firefighters themselves raised the other half through pancake breakfasts and a golf outing—during their off hours.

The trailer was funded and constructed at no cost to Mentor taxpayers, and now the busing and the instruction itself (done during off hours) are also at no cost to Mentor taxpayers.

Here’s what the children see projected on a screen as they sit in a “boat” inside the trailer:

Interior of trailer with water-safety teaching aids

A young boy falls from a boat into Lake Erie 

A line is thrown to the boy, and he swims toward the “boat.”

The Mentor Fire Department’s rescue boat arrives and saves the boy.

In their first year of operation, the fire fighters hoped to reach 1000 children.  By taking the water safety lesson to fairs and festivals, they educated over 6100!  They traveled as far south as Columbus, as far west as Rocky River and as far east as Geneva for their lessons, donating over 1000 hours to the program—during their off hours.

One year 10 busloads of children from the Cleveland system wanted to visit the Water Safety Trailer.  It never occurred to the firefighters to pull up the moat.  What’s important to them is teaching safety to children.

To make a tax-deductible donation to Mentor Safety Village, go to  http://mentorsafetyvillage.com/Supporting-Mentor-Safety-Village.php

Daily, we entrust our lives and our children’s lives to the capable men and women in the Mentor Fire Department.

It doesn’t make sense to mistrust their ability to responsibly negotiate their own terms of employment.

Such a stance is an insult to the fire fighters’ fundamental dedication and integrity.


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