As National Fire Prevention Week kicks off, Dickinson firefighters eagerly anticipate the upcoming Neighborhood Visit to connect with the community, giving children rides inside the shiny red fire trucks.
The Dickinson Fire Department will host its annual Neighborhood Visit from 5 p.m. to dusk Tuesday, Oct. 12, at College Park, located at 1474 Second St. W. in Dickinson. Deputy Fire Chief Mark Selle remarked that this event garners in quite the crowd each year.
“It's something that we do to get out in the community and get in contact with everybody and give the kids a chance to look at the fire truck, “Selle said. “It is a unique event that kids get an opportunity to ride in a fire truck… (It) gives us a chance to interact with the community and just talk to them and be a part of this community.”
So as long as children are old enough to wear a seatbelt, they’ll be allowed to ride along in a fire truck, Selle said, adding that they usually go until dusk to make sure each child gets a ride around the block and see what it’s like to be inside the truck as the sirens and lights go off.
“It's always fun to watch them. Some kids are just super excited about it, some tend to be a little scared. But after they get in, they really enjoy it. We got kids that try to ride every firetruck that we have there (and) not just take one ride,” he said, adding, “It's always a fun experience; kids really like it. We give them the fire hats, the stickers and all that stuff and they really enjoy seeing the fire trucks and seeing firefighters and our gear and being up close. Most times, it's a stationary object that they come see and it's not moving. Now, they get to actually ride in it and go around the block, so it's kind of fun for them.”
Due to COVID-19 concerns in 2020, the DFD drove around in the city as a way to show its presence to the community, especially elementary students since fire personnel were not able to give in-person tutorials to schools in the area.
Many years ago, a past DFD volunteer brought this idea up to the fire department as a way for local fire service people to boost their community outreach and for the community to get to know the firefighters on a more intimate level, Selle continued. This event also ties in with National Fire Prevention Week, where DFD members along with other local fire departments will go into classrooms and educate young students the importance of fire safety.
“These are the communities (and) people that we serve. We want them to know us,” Selle said, noting, “… It's really important for people to come in and meet the firefighters and realize that we're not all full-time firefighters. There's a lot of volunteers here and they may know them, and not realize that they're firefighters (when) they see them in their regular job.”