Helena Fire Department visits preschool

By MACKENZEE SIMMS | Staff Writer

HELENA – Wearing dalmatian costumes and swimsuits, preschoolers gathered in the parking lot of Helena’s AIM Academy on Wednesday, June 5 as firefighters from the Helena Fire Department showcased their gear and equipment for the kids to see.

During the visit, representatives from the HFD invited children to tour Helena’s iconic blue firetruck, sprayed the firehose and gave a demonstration of their gear and equipment.

FireMedic Ed Lindsey shared that his favorite part of the visit was seeing the excitement on the children’s faces as they touched the engine or held the firehose.

“The (kids) get to put their hands on the hose, and it’s not putting out much more water than your garden hose at home, but because it’s coming off this fire truck, it’s very special to them,” Lindsey said. “It’s a memory that they will remember.”

Attached to the firetruck, the hose ejected water through a fence into a small pond to ensure that no child wandered into the crossfire.

Firefighter Griffin Guy manned the firehose as the kids held on to the lever, and explained that he was happy to help with the event because he remembers meeting firefighters when he was a kid.

“When I was a kid, it was really, really fun to me when I got to go to the fire department,” Guy said. “It (gave me) someone to look up to and set me on my path of what I want to do. Some of these kids, when they grow up, might want to be a fireman. I think it’s really important to come out here and allow them access to this stuff and kind of show them a glimpse into a future in the fire service.”

Beyond enjoying a special day under the summer sun, the HFD’s visit to the preschool served a greater purpose—to educate kids about the role of firefighters.

According to Lindsey, young children in emergency situations can react fearfully when they see a firefighter.  Events such as the HFD’s visit to AIM Academy will hopefully help children recognize that firefighters are there to help.

“If they’re in a house fire and we’re coming in to get them, we want them to come to us and not try to hide and run from us,” Lindsey said. “With the younger kids, our primary goal is to get them familiarized with ourselves, familiarized with our gear and understand that we’re not scary.”

Guy recounted that when he donned his full gear, a few children initially shied away from him, but relaxed as the morning went on.

“At first, when you get in there, they’re a little bit scared,” Guy said. “But after you show them and you take off the mask, they realize that we’re just people like them. I think the important thing today is familiarizing them with our equipment. If there is a fire, they’ll know what to look for and that we are friends and not there to hurt them.”

The Helena Fire Department hosts educational visits for a variety of different age groups, from young children such as those at AIM Academy to senior citizens. Organizations interesting in hosting the HFD for a visit can contact the fire marshal’s office.

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