Hinesburg Fire Department celebrates with hands-on safety

Children got to climb on the fire trucks and even get behind the wheel as if they were responding to an emergency.

The Hinesburg Volunteer Fire Department hosted its annual Safety Fun Day Saturday giving youngsters – and some not so young – a chance to check out fire trucks, an ambulance, play games and most importantly learn to be safe.

Fire Chief Al Barber said the popular event is a chance to get families and public safety personnel together to enjoy games, a cookout and most importantly learn a little about fire and personal safety. He said the occasional sprinkle on Saturday did not damper the day as the department say its biggest turnout in the three years of the program.

Photos by Mike Donoghue
Benjamin Soltsov, 3 1/2 years old of Richmond uses a fire extinguisher on a propane fire with the help of his dad, Ben, and firefighter Jeremy Lang (right).

“This has been growing,” said Barber, who has been the volunteer chief since 1999.

“It really is a chance to enable the townspeople to come to the fire station and mingle with the volunteers,” Barber said. He said the event is designed to be a stress-free event – unlike when people are calling the department in an emergency.

“We usually see them when it is not a good time and them being totally under stress,” he said.

He said the department tries throughout the year to do outreach into the community, which is generally supportive of the volunteers. The next event will be hosting a Farmer’s Market and Craft Fair from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 14 at the fire station.

Emergency medical responder Doug Schmidt takes his turn in the dunking booth.

On Saturday children were the focus. They could learn about fire safety, carbon monoxide, poisons and see a car seat protection demonstration. Various safety brochures also were available to bring home to share with the family. Some children even got a chance to use a fire extinguisher on a propane fire exhibit.

While the 50-50 raffle, a bounce house in the shape of a fire station, burgers, hot dogs and cotton candy added to the day but one special highlight was a dunk tank that featured a chance to soak Hinesburg Police Chief Frank Koss, who also happens to be a member of the fire department and an advanced emergency medical technician.

Besides the Hinesburg Fie Department trucks and equipment, St. Michael’s College Fire and Rescue brought in one of its ambulances. “They always do a great job coming down and letting people get acquainted with their equipment,” Barber said.

People also took rides through the neighborhood on the first fire truck obtained after the Hinesburg Volunteer Fire Department was formed in 1943. The 1945 Ford, still known as Engine 1, is maintained by the department and a wonderful conversation piece.

The fire department plans a special 75th anniversary community celebration next June, according to Barber, only the fourth chief to serve. The plan is to combine the fire department anniversary with Hinesburg’s Fourth of July Celebration on June 30 – the Saturday before the national holiday – with a large parade and festivities.

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