The most Northern elephant who ever walked the earth, Welephant is possibly the ultimate fire mascot of the 80s and 90s (at least across the Pennines). Voiced by Peter Kay, this huge red elephant terrorised me with school assembly presentations and 'educational' videos. Sometimes I still huddle in bed at night remembering the combination of awful child acting and the endless mantra "Matches, matches never touch. They can hurt you very much... Matches, matches never touch. They can hurt you very much. Matches, matches never touch..."
The best Welephant moment is when he and Sparky make a bonfire. Who better to instruct the children of Bolton on fire safety than two men in flammable suits made of PVC and plastic fur?
For our American cousins, Smokey is one famous bear. He is the head spokesman of the U.S forest service and protects against forest fires (granted, slightly more scary and large scale than a once-a-year bonfire). Smokey is a bit more serious than the trippy Welephant. He’s all shovels and accusatory fingers. His slogan runs "Only you can prevent forest fires!" and this message starts to get a bit fanatical as Smokey stands in front of a blaze with woodland creatures huddled in the background.
Sure thing Smokey. But it wouldn't kill you to pick up a bucket would it?
And we're not the only ones who think Smokey needs to chill out a bit!
Dalmatians are the traditional mascots of the fire department. In the days when fire engines and sirens were a distant invention Dalmatians would run alongside the fire horse-and-carts in order to warn people ahead of the danger.
There are a couple of problems with having live animals as your fire mascot though. For one, we're constantly told to keep pets indoors when Guy Fawkes strikes - so any Dalmatian owners thinking of returning their beloved dogs to service please think again. The phrase "shaking like a shitting dog" exists for a reason. Secondly, once you choose an adorable animal for your mascot you only encourage a Halloween hangover 'fancy dress' vibe. In two shakes of a dogs tail you'll have his-and-hers outfits like this to contend with round the bonfire:
Kyuta is a fireman from the future (obviously) and the mascot for the Tokyo Fire Department. In the UK we celebrate Guy Fawkes Night every year and, as Welephant and Smokey have taught us, are putting ourselves in mortal danger. In Japan they hold Shobo Dezome-shiki, an event which showcases the strength of the firemen as they show off acrobatic performances from firemen climbing up ladders.
Kyuta whizzes round putting out fires and singing his only slightly annoying theme song. He wears a bright blue helmet to represent water, and a red suit, which represents his fearlessness; his yellow antenna lights up when he detects danger, and his chest holds the emergency telephone number. His name comes from kyu ('9' in Japanese, repping the 119 emergency number), it also helps that the two kanji 急 and 救, mean “rapid” and “rescue” are both pronounced kyu. Works on so many levels!
Freddy and Filbert
Freddy and Filbert (and their good friend Penelope who comes from Hollywood) are talking fire-extinguishers. They aren't the brightest sparks though and seem pretty unaware of their own ability to put out fire as they carelessly leave hair straighteners to burn a box of tissues and let a chip pan fire rage, destroying their home. Lincolnshire fire department promise that by watching this video primary school children will learn how to leave their homes quickly and safely - they might have updated the format but these glam CO2 canisters are just as scary as Welephant was back in the 90s.
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