PENHOLD – Firefighters have been forced to suspend the joy of spreading fun and happiness at special curbside community events.
Penhold’s finest have eagerly seized community requests to suit up, drive fire trucks to local parks and make the most memorable birthday party ever for local kids.
But the current COVID-19 pandemic has temporarily put an end to the increasingly popular events.
"We love going to birthday parties and doing curbside stuff but we have to have as little interaction between our firefighters as possible.We decided it was just in the best interest for the firefighters, their families and the public if we don’t do that,” said Jim Pendergast, the local fire chief. “Even if we send out two people our procedures are such, we have to fully declean and decontaminate the fire truck and all the equipment afterwards.
“Firefighters have to throw out their gloves. Everybody is having trouble procuring PPE (personal protection equipment) gloves and face masks. We only have so much,” added Pendergast. “We don’t want to be using them up going to somebody who unfortunately can’t have a birthday party.”
Pendergast noted the 35-member department has been doing special curbside events about twice a month for the last five years. He added the events are always considered special for the firefighters who make every effort to ensure its a memorable day for kids and their families.
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“We love doing it. If a little person was having a birthday party, we would take the fire truck there and let everybody at the birthday party go through the fire truck,” said Pendergast, adding firefighters bring kids firefighting helmets and colouring books. He said firefighters also set up their hoses and throw up water in a park for kids to run through. “We loved doing that but it’s just that we can’t do that now. All that stuff is on hold.”
As well, the fire department must now turn down family requests to bring their children to the fire hall for a tour, also a disappointment for the department as it is as fun and popular for firefighters as it is for the kids.
“We loved doing that but we have to protect ourselves and the public,” said Pendergast. “So, in the best interests of serving the public we are not allowing any visitors to come to the hall and we are not going to be able to go out to do any public relations stuff.”
He said once the COVID-19 crisis is over firefighters will resume their special curbside event visits.
“Absolutely, we are for sure looking forward to that,” he said.