The Wilton Fire Department rolled out the red fire engine for its annual CT Fire Safety Poster Contest, picking up the 4th grade and 5th grade winners for a ride to school Thursday morning, Jan. 18, on Tanker 5, with firefighters Mike Pryor and Mike Hydra. That was followed by an awards ceremony, where fire and school officials congratulated the local winners Michelle Yabalkarov and Saanvi Kakarlapudi, who took 1st place in the 4th and 5th grades, respectively; and runners-up Polina Popova (4th grade) and Lucy Filip (5th grade).

Fire marshal Rocco Grosso presented the award certificates to the winners, and Wilton Firefighters Local 2233 president David Chaloux presented them with Visa gift cards–$100 for first place, and $50 for runners up. Cider Mill teachers Megan Anderson, Caroline Duggan, and Michele Montanaro, plus principal Jennifer Mitchell, and the winners’ parents were on hand to cheer on the winners.

The contest theme was “Fire Prevention–Everyone/Everyday,” which is meant to promote child and adult awareness of fire prevention responsibilities. Last year, approximately 30,000 entries were submitted throughout the state. The annual statewide competition for fourth and fifth graders began Oct. 1, and is run by elementary school teachers in cooperation with the contest sponsors–the Connecticut Fire Marshals’ Association, Office of the State Fire Marshal, Connecticut Fire Chiefs’ Association, State Board of Education, and the Connecticut FAIR Plan (representing the insurance industry).

The 1st place posters on the local level will be submitted to the county-wide competition; the winners of that stage will move on to be considered for first place in the state.