More than two decades after the idea for a Burbank Fire Department
mascot was conceived, “Lil’ Squirt” made its debut this week.
Fire Chief Mike Davis introduced the mascot, a baby elephant drawn
up by Disney animators and then brought to life through costume, at
Tuesday’s City Council meeting.
The idea for the mascot started about 20 years ago when the
department asked Disney Studios to produce an animated video to
promote fire safety to children, Davis said.
But since the cost exceeded the department’s budget allotment, the
studio gave the rights to a drawing of Lil’ Squirt to the department,
which used it as a logo on educational posters, handouts and slides
projected before movies at local theaters.
“We felt it was now time to utilize this educational tool to the
fullest extent by bringing the lines on paper to life,” Davis said
during the council meeting.
So Custom Characters in Glendale was hired to create the
department’s first mascot, which is dressed in a fire helmet and
turnouts -- the pants, boots and jackets worn by firefighters.
“‘He is intended to be used as a liaison between us and the
schools,” Capt. Ron Bell said. “Kids will love him.”
Bell also said he kept the mascot a secret from most of the
firefighters in the department, including Davis, before the meeting.
“He was totally surprised to see a 7-foot-tall elephant walk in
the room,” Bell said.
Also at Tuesday’s meeting, Lil’ Squirt, flanked by Davis, Bell and
Fire Marshal Dave Starr, recognized the graduates of the 2003
Regional Occupation Program, which teaches local high school students
about careers in fire service.