A ribbon cutting ceremony officially signaled the opening of Life Safety Park, Coppell’s newest education facility, on Saturday, Jan. 28. The park, a brand new educational facility in Main Street Coppell, is designed to teach children how to stay safe in a number of situations including during severe weather, a fire or while driving a vehicle.
“[Children] will learn all aspects of life safety, growing up and beyond,” park manager Jamie Perkins said. “It’s not just fire safety, but pedestrian safety, motor vehicle safety, bicycle safety. They’ll learn all different aspects of what it’s going to take to remain safe as they grow into the community.”
The main feature of Life Safety Park is a miniature city, complete with its own fire station, in which children will be able to explore, ride bikes, and even drive around so they can learn how to stay safe in traffic.
“We’ve built a miniature city for [children] to walk around and learn what to recognize and what to look for,” Perkins said. “We’re starting with just the smaller kids, but this is also a facility that can grow as we develop our curriculum. It can grow with the middle school kids and high school kids.”
The park also features a museum and will offer classrooms and meeting places that can be rented for public use.
In addition to education and meeting facilities, Life Safety Park also serves as Coppell’s official emergency operations center. In the event of an emergency, city departments will now be able to meet at the park and enact an emergency response, which will allow for quicker, organized feedback.
Coppell Chief of Police Mac Tristan explained how this new facility benefits the city of Coppell.
“When a major event occurs, whether it’s man-made or weather-related, the quicker public safety can come together and respond to that event, the more likelihood you save lives,” Tristan said. “There have been instances, and sadly, we have learned from prior instances, where this person doesn’t know what “this” person is doing, this department doesn’t know what “this” department is doing, and that lack of communications causes a delay in response to that emergency. With what we do here, we have the ability to work from every station: police, fire, traffic, public works, you name it. Every city department comes together for one event.”
At the ceremony, Chief Tristan, along with Fire Department Chief Kevin Richardson, City Manager Clay Phillips, and Mayor Karen Hunt, came forward to speak about the park and to formally cut the ribbon.
The fire department also held a retirement ceremony for one of their oldest fire engines, Engine No. 41, which will now be permanently on display at Life Safety Park. Following the ceremony, children were allowed to play at the park and take part in a number of games and activities. Police, firemen and EMS workers were also on hand, teaching the children about safety and letting the kids explore their various vehicles.
Along with the many families and first responders, a number of city council and city officials were in attendance at Saturday’s ceremony, including Mayor Pro Tem Wes Mays. He said the park has been in development for several years.
“Some of our existing members who were actually on the fire department and in city offices started brainstorming about how to create an environment that actually saves lives before emergencies happen,” Mays said. “That’s the important and really wonderful thing about Life Safety Park. It teaches life skills to people about how to prevent accidents and what to do in case there is an accident. I see this as just a wonderful benefit for our citizens and especially for the generations to come.”
Police Chief Mac Tristan agrees that education is the best way to prevent both accidents and crimes from occurring.
“You can respond to a crime that has been committed,” Tristan said. “You can take that report, you can follow up, but how do we prevent that crime from being committed? The best way to do that is to educate our community, the public, to not become victims of crime.”