Alabaster Fire Department distributing free bike helmets at CityFest

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

For the past several days, a bay usually reserved for one of the Alabaster Fire Department’s engines has been almost completely filled with items designed to make the area’s kids safer.

And during the June 4 Alabaster CityFest, the department will be donating the bay-full of items to every child who wants one.

With the help of the ThinkFirst National Foundation, Kohl’s department store and Vicki Hill of Children’s Hospital, the department will be donating about 1,000 multi-sport helmets to children who attend CityFest.

“Last year, we gave out about 500 helmets, and this year we have 1,000. It almost fills up one of our fire truck bays,” Alabaster fire Lt. Ched Burton said with a laugh, noting department Lt. Harold Mitchell, who is in charge of the department’s public education programs, organized the helmet give-away.

The department will begin giving the helmets away when the festival begins, and will continue to give them out until they are gone. Helmets will range in size from toddler to extra large, and kids can choose either a pink or blue helmet.

State law requires children younger than 16 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle, so the event will be a free way for parents to ensure their children are ready for the summer months, Burton said.

“Head injuries are one of the only types of injuries that are extremely hard to fix,” Burton said. “You can fix a broken arm or a broken leg, but it’s hard to fix a head injury. A helmet protects against that.”