The latest of the St. Cloud Fire PALS boxes was installed Wednesday afternoon on New York Avenue in front of the VFW Building. The Fire PALS boxes continue to be a very special addition to the city, but this Fire PAL box has an “extra special” story, and extra special meaning to the city, the community, and to St. Cloud Fire Rescue.

The design concept was the creation of SCFR Firefighter / Paramedic Yeison Betancur, who served in the U.S. Army from 2005-2011, including tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

While oversees, the 4th Infantry Division Betancur was part of helping liberate numerous towns and villages, and rebuild schools for girls in the region. The left side of the box commemorates four of Betancur’s comrades who were killed in action in Afghanistan. The right side of the box honors the U.S. Marines raising the flag on Iwo Jima, and the rear of the box has the St. Cloud Fire Rescue logo. To make the box even more special, it was painted by Firefighter Betancur’s brother, Yoel. The box, like similar ones located throughout the City, contains a variety of fire safety activity books and reading books for children.

Short for Fire Prevention and Life Safety, Fire PALS is a community outreach organization designed to support fire safety awareness through children’s books and fire safety activities. Each fire safety item is carefully selected to help teach the kiddos in the community how to recognize an emergency and react safely. Your child could be the one to save another person’s life, or your own.

Fire PALS boxes are strategically placed around the community at frequently visited locations. Our goal is to place a box at outdoor venues and parks throughout the city. The process of bringing a Fire PALS box to completion is done by each box being handcrafted and brought to life by local artists with a fire-related theme. Check out this “locations” link to find your closest Fire PALS community book box.

For more information on the Fire PALS program, visit

SOURCE: City of St. Cloud,