Young children learn about safety from a variety of sources, including formal lessons and informal activities provided through early childhood education and care (ECEC) services. For many ECEC centres in Australia, scheduled visits from police and fire departments are a highlight of safety education activities. Such visits offer children the opportunity to see and touch safety equipment, to meet police and fire department personnel, and to discuss and ask questions about safety issues. This article analyses ethnographic data generated in a multiracial, multiethnic ECEC setting in the outer western suburbs of Sydney, Australia in 2006. Part of a larger, ongoing study concerning childhood and popular culture, this article analyses the cultural politics of safety education visits from police and fire department personnel in one research site. Drawing on Foucauldian notions of power-knowledge, together with critical race theories, the article argues that children's knowledge of fire and police services is culturally situated, and impacts significantly on the effectiveness of such visits as a means of communicating lessons in personal safety. In particular, the article considers how the children's responses to safety lessons are shaped by gendered and racialised relations of biopolitical power and state-sanctioned violence that produce discursive norms between individuals, communities and state institutions. Copyright © 2010 Symposium Journals Ltd.