Behind the Badge: ‘Firefighter Paul,’ KFD’s chaplain seeks to educate youth

Behind the Badge

Compassion, loyalty, hard work, love – these are just some of the words people use to describe KFD Captain Paul Trumpore. 

“He takes it beyond what that obligation is as a person in uniform with a badge on”, says Red Cross Disaster Program Manager Kristin Manuel, “That’s what sets him out from anybody else.”

For more than three decades, Capt. Trumpore has been serving the people of Knoxville and Knox County.

“I was taught by my parents to do a lot of outreach assistance for other people”‘ says Trumpore when asked about where his drive to help others comes from. A drive that continues to propel him today. 

“I can’t undo the damage that has happened, but I can at least be compassionate in how we inform,” says Trumpore. “We can’t always make everybody’s day better. I can’t bring their house back, I can’t bring their loved one back, I can’t undo a car crash. I can’t undo those things… but I can keep them from getting worse.” 

One way Captain Trumpore gives back is through his work with the Kids Fire Safety House.

Kids Fire Safety House is a project he has overseen with the assistance of the Red Cross and others since 2007. 

“I want them (children) to understand”, says Trumpore, “That this is real as far as what we’re practicing. The disaster isn’t real, and I don’t want you to have one, but if you do you’re going to know what to do.”

The portable classroom is used to teach K-5th grade students about the dangers found in the home.

“We teach everything in the disaster preparedness curriculum for the state of Tennessee up to 5th grade,” says Trumpore. 

As for the program’s effectiveness, Red Cross disaster managers say the message is definitely getting through and, more importantly, young lives are being saved.

“We’ve even had stories where there’s been a fire in a home of a child who went through the fire safety house with firefighter Paul,” says Manuel. “The fire department comes and the kids are in their meeting spot that they discussed at the fire safety house.”

Captain Trumpore says since 2007, the Kids Fire Safety House has been host to approximately 141,000 East Tennessee youth.
 

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