BONHAM — For nearly 28 years, Lt. Alan Reaves has been serving the Bonham Fire Department in many capacities — including fighting fires and dressing as a clown to teach children fire safety.

BONHAM — For nearly 28 years, Lt. Alan Reaves has been serving the Bonham Fire Department in many capacities — including fighting fires and dressing as a clown to teach children fire safety.


Growing up in Bonham, Reaves spent a lot of time around the fire station.


"I grew up around the fire department, because my dad had a store downtown, and I’d always visit the fire station," he said.


When he became a senior in high school, Reaves began working as a volunteer firefighter for the Bonham FD. In 1990, he became a full-time firefighter and has been so ever since.


In addition to responding to fires and medical emergencies, Reaves spends an average day testing fire hydrants around town and conducting "pre-fires." During a "pre-fire," firefighters visit local businesses and become acquainted with the layout of the building so they can navigate through it in the event of a fire.


But some of Reaves’ favorite work days are when he gets to don a clown costume and perform as "Blaze" in Bonham FD’s "Life and Fire Safety Education" — a program in which firefighters dress as clowns and put on skits to teach children fire safety. During the month of October, a team of seven from the Bonham FD visits each elementary school in Fannin County to teach the program.


Topics that the firefighters teach children include not just fire safety, but also gun safety, swimming safety and bicycle safety.


The firefighters always think of a creative way to teach children safety concepts, Reaves said. For gun safety, they made a shotgun out of swimming noodles and told children that if they encounter a gun to not touch it, to leave the area and tell an adult.


Since the Bonham FD began teaching Life and Fire Safety Education in 2000, the number of fires throughout the county have declined, Reaves said. Since the introduction of gun safety to the program, there have been no incidents of children accidentally shooting someone else.


"You have to assume that something that you taught them might have saved somebody’s life," Reaves said.


The only downside of his job, Reaves said, is sometimes not being able to see his family. When Reaves isn’t working, he enjoys spending time with his four children: Laura, Ryan, Madison and Hunter.


Reaves said he hopes to be promoted to captain, and retire at a young enough age to travel and enjoy his family.