LAYTON -- It may not be Gotham City, but Batman patrols his Layton neighborhood on his bike -- after he gets permission from his mom.
Luke Purcell, 8, like a lot of boys his age, enjoys dressing up as the Caped Crusader as soon as he gets home from Lincoln Elementary School, where he is a second-grader. His grandmother has sewn him black capes, complete with hoods and masks, so he can play as his favorite superhero.
On April 27, Luke, the son of Ben and Tanya Purcell, showed off his superhero skills and played a part in alerting Layton Fire Department about a house fire.
Luke was at a friend's home, a block away from his own home, where they were playing superheroes outside.
"I was playing with my friend, and I thought I smelled fireworks," Luke said.
After a minute or two, Luke said, he looked up and "I saw a lot of smoke coming from the roof of the house."
That's when he told his friend they should go get help.
"I told his mom about the smoke so she could call the firefighters," Luke said.
That phone call was one of seven made that afternoon regarding a structure fire at 290 W. Meadow Brooke Court, said Doug Bitton, public information officer with Layton Fire Department.
"It is extremely rare for a child to recognize there is a fire" if it is not at their home, Bitton said.
Bitton said the fire department goes to each school in Layton every year and conducts an assembly about safety, including what children should do if they suspect there is a fire. The most important rule is to find an adult fast.
Luke said he remembers the assembly now but didn't think about it when he saw the smoke.
Luke said he worried there were people inside the burning house, but did not want to try and rescue them.
"I didn't want to catch on fire," Luke said.
Luke said he was glad when the fire engines and firefighters arrived. He said he knew everyone would be OK.
Tanya Purcell said her son has loved pretending to be Batman for at least two years.
"I like that Batman helps people," Luke said.
Luke's room is filled with Batman toys, a Batcave, books about Batman and, naturally, when asked what he likes to watch on TV, "Batman" is his reply. Most of his clothes even have a Batman logo.
But his favorite thing to do as Batman is to pedal his bike down the sidewalk with his black cape billowing behind him.
"My friend called me the other day when Luke was outside and said, 'I know our neighborhood is so much safer when I see Batman is on the prowl,' " Tanya said.
When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Luke had a quick reply: "Batman."
Asked what he wants to be if he couldn't be Batman, Luke paused for a moment and then said, "A policeman."