dave-mittlemanEvery year around the time of the Fourth of July holiday, you hear the same old warnings about firework safety. It’s difficult to tell if kids actually heed these warnings, however, since hearing the same thing each year can start to sound like Charlie Brown’s teacher. But three Midland, MI firefighters have changed the sorry old fireworks warnings into a new catchy rap song that was featured on Youtube and has caught the attention of media outlets across the nation.

The firefighters’ quick rise to semi-fame all began with a friendly competition. Once a month, the Midland public television station MCTV puts together a public safety video and posts it to Youtube. This month, the three Midland firefighters, Mark Laux, Roger Bebeau, and Steve Makowski set their sights on beating the Midland Police Department in a race to see who could get the most Youtube video hits. While the police department, with their video “How to Spot a Police Impostor”, got about 6,000 views, the firefighters’ video has been seen by about 20,000 people. In addition, the trio became a minor Internet hit when CNN and ABC News radio featured the song on their shows and also thanks to a write-up by the Associated Press.

The men jokingly refer to themselves as Mix Master Mark and the Ax Men and admit that it took a lot of Internet research to come up with lines that rhyme. Moreover, at different times during the music video, a digital clock hangs from Laux’s neck, a play on Flava Flav’s signature style. Overall, the three firefighters say that the video was intended to be reminiscent of the Ying-Yang Twins’ hit “Salt Shaker.” The idea for the rap video arose out of the notion that it would appeal to the fire department’s target audience of pre-teens and teenagers. Indeed, they have been pretty successful since kids are quoting the 2-minute, 45-second video. Other agencies have taken notice of the ingenious approach, including The Los Angeles Fire Department and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Watch the firefighters’ video for one of the coolest takes on fireworks safety.