Five lucky kids from across Swift Current got to become Fire Chiefs for a Day yesterday.
These kids won the chance to come down to the Swift Current Fire Hall at their schools, with one child being selected per school.
Those kids were Autumn Janzen, a fourth grader from Central School, Evynn Reich, a third grader from Fairview School, Justin Tuprio, a fifth grader from All Saints Catholic School, Kyle Keddo, a fifth grader from O.M. Irwin, and Anna Potapova from Ecole Centennial.
Together, they learned about duties at the fire hall, and how the trucks and equipment work, and got to try out some of the less strenuous activities firefighters engage in.
Organizing the half-day excursion for the kids was Swift Current Fire Department Deputy Fire Chief, Dean Diguer.
"They come in first thing in the morning and they hang around with the guys," said Diguer. "The guys do a little bit of public education talk with them. They just really get to spend a lot of time with us as we do our regular duties."
While the energy in the room was a little higher than the firefighters were used to, they did have a fun time with the kids. The kids were first introduced to Firefighters Tanner Mckechnie and Cody Kirton. Then, they were split into two groups and took a tour of the fire hall.
"We checked the sirens and stuff," said Potapova.
Together, they worked to check the horn and siren worked. They did a visual inspection of the cabin and of the various safety lights. Finally, they got to learn about the various components and compartments of the vehicles.
"The fire trucks have really cool places where there's some stuff in a big compartment," said Reich. "With bags and stuff."
More than just the fire trucks, they got to learn about the other various response units in the fire hall. One was the all-terrain vehicle that they use in places the big trucks can't go.
Another was the Medical Response Unit, a smaller truck that has an attachable trailer. This one they were able to again inspect the lights, horn, and cabin.
One of the most unique things they saw was the boat which is used during aquatic emergencies.
Toward the end of the tour within the hall, the kids watched as Mckechnie and Aaron Stewart, another firefighter, utilized the famous fire pole.
The kids called them down over the radio, with both of them coming down to cheers and applause from the Fire Chiefs. The children themselves weren't big enough to come down the pole but were happy they got to see it in action.
"[I'm going to tell] my friends everything we did here," said Tuprio.
The gymnasium was another stop on the tour, with the kids learning and trying out exercises that the firemen do every day. One of the biggest surprises of the day's adventures was little Evvyn Reich, aged 8, who managed to do ten pull-ups, ten reps on a 45lbs bar, and then later pulled the rescue dummy all on her own, even though it weighed over three times her weight.
After the gym, the next thing up was seeing the training dummies used in practicing carrying people, followed by a trip to City Hall.
Once the kids, along with Diguer, arrived at City Hall, they were introduced to Swift Current Mayor, Al Bridal. Together, they learned about the Mayor and some of his official accessories like the city council gavel and the mayoral chain.
"He showed us his [necklace]!", said Keddo. "We also got into some sort of court and got to speak into these microphones. He did show us a few more things."
After talking with the mayor, the Fire Chiefs made their way back to the fire hall for lunch. Partnering with McDonalds for the outing, the Swift Current Fire Department took them out to enjoy a lunch free of charge, before once again coming back.
"We got McDonalds!," said Janzen. "I got a burger and fries, and a rootbeer!"
By 1 p.m., the kids were ready to head back to school. They were able to get a commemorative photo with Swift Current Fire Department Fire Chief, Ryan Hunter, before getting rides back to school in the fire trucks.
Diguer was relieved that the day went so well for the kids and for the firefighters looking after them. Questions were asked, answers were given, and both groups managed to learn from each other a great deal.
"We had a nine-year-old girl [here today] that speaks three or four languages," said Diguer. "We were learning about [how] a number of them are fairly new to Canada as well. So lots of different experiences for both sides really."
The goal of this program for the Fire Department is to help encourage these kids to both understand who they are and what they do, as well as to further their knowledge pertaining to fire safety at a young, impressionable age.
"It's been pretty pretty hectic," laughed Diguer. "This kind of officially ends our Fire Prevention Week activities, [which] is technically only one week, but our activities generally stretch over the course of two."
The Fire Chiefs may have only been on duty for a day, but during their tenure, they ensured every truck was in working order, checked all the equipment stored on the trucks, and assisted in various daily duties. They are now equipped with plenty of knowledge they can take back to their friends and families, helping to spread awareness and fire safety.
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