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Fowler visits St. Louis school to stress fire safety

MLB.com @JoeTrezz

ST. LOUIS -- Soon after emerging from a sea of kids in firefighter hats, Dexter Fowler thought about his mom. He learned much from his mother, Trudy, who taught physical education in Fowler's hometown of Marietta, Ga. On Tuesday morning, when Fowler surprised more than 200 students at Patrick Henry Elementary in downtown St. Louis, some of those memories and lessons came rushing back.

"My mom was a grade school teacher, so coming in here and getting to interact with the kids is awesome," Fowler said. "Especially for a good cause."

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ST. LOUIS -- Soon after emerging from a sea of kids in firefighter hats, Dexter Fowler thought about his mom. He learned much from his mother, Trudy, who taught physical education in Fowler's hometown of Marietta, Ga. On Tuesday morning, when Fowler surprised more than 200 students at Patrick Henry Elementary in downtown St. Louis, some of those memories and lessons came rushing back.

"My mom was a grade school teacher, so coming in here and getting to interact with the kids is awesome," Fowler said. "Especially for a good cause."

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The cause that drew Fowler to Patrick Henry Elementary on Tuesday could be seen from down the street. St. Louis Fire Department trucks rumbled to a stop in front of the school's courtyard, carrying a mobile fire safety house in tow. Children from kindergarten to third grade spilled out onto the concrete, sporting red-and-white hard hats. By the end of the morning, 200 students were deputized as junior fire marshals, part of a joint effort between the Cardinals, The Hartford and the city of St. Louis to promote the importance of fire prevention.

Tweet from @JoeTrezz: Dexter Fowler speaking to elementary school children this morning in an effort to promote fire safety. #STLCards pic.twitter.com/uf2FU6QmNH

"It can happen to anybody." Fowler said. "I remember watching the videos and actually going through all this stuff with the fire department when I was in school. It sticks in your head. Now it's great to get a chance to be on this side of things instead of that side."

According to The Hartford's Home Fire Index, St. Louis ranks No. 7 among the 100 cities with the highest home fire risk. Leon Whitener, a captain and public education officer for the STLPD, said the city saw a record low number of fire fatalities last year. He credited those results to outreach efforts like Tuesday's.

"Education works. We need to be more proactive and more aggressive and reach as many children as we can," Whitener said. "We don't get a lot of celebrities visiting these schools, these neighborhoods. A lot of times, they are the forgotten until something happens, until a tragedy happens."

Tweet from @JoeTrezz: Dexter Fowler and dozens of his newest, fire-safe friends. #STLCards pic.twitter.com/VkG4rNPAZf

Fowler's message to the students was simple.

"It's just awareness, so they don't panic in the moment," Fowler said. "You take some of these points and you take them home, and you could save your family."

Joe Trezza is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter at @joetrezz.

St. Louis Cardinals, Dexter Fowler