EAST LAKE — Hoses were sprayed and a helicopter was flown at an event that gave adults and youngsters an inside look on what a fire rescue station does on a daily basis.
On April 13, the East Lake Fire Rescue held their 2019 Open House at Station 57, on Tarpon Lake Boulevard. The event featured demonstrations, games and interactive exhibits.
Claudia Faiola, public education officer for the East Lake Fire Rescue, likes to see how the event grows each time.
“We try just adding more every single year,” Faiola said.
The average attendance is more than 500 people. That turnout is due to the admiration people have for the fire rescue, she believes.
“People love our firefighters,” Faiola said. “It’s awesome to see little kids looking at the firefighters and I think it’s pretty cool for the firefighters too because they get to see all of their fans. That’s what it pretty much always feels like.”
The importance of the open house goes beyond just meeting the locals.
“Our department is huge on getting involved with the community, but more so prevention,” Faiola said. “We come to you if you’re in need but if we can prevent you from having a terrible day to begin with, that’s our goal.”
Something that surprises many people is learning how often the department works with Emergency Medical Services.
She said, “I think people are very surprised at how much firefighters deal with the EMS. We’re out there on car accidents and falls. Those are pretty much our biggest calls.”
Information tables included the East Lake Community Emergency Response Team, Florida Forest Service, Rotary Club of East Lake Sunrise, Center for Cyber Safety and Education, Poison Help, Pinellas County Emergency Management, American Red Cross and Florida Fire Sprinkler Coalition.
Activities for youngsters included a hose roll, a search and rescue mission and pictures with Sparky the Fire Dog. They could also spray hoses to put out “fires,” which were flames painted onto cardboard. A bike giveaway and helmet fittings were offered as well.
A helicopter from St. Petersburg-based regional air medical service Bayflite was one of the highlights of the event, with attendees being able to witness both the landing and takeoff.
Jennifer Edson took her 2-year-old son to experience the vehicles that he admires.
“I saw the sign out along the road and this little guy just loves firetrucks,” she said. “I hope one day he’ll want to be a firefighter.”
Station 57 will hold the East Lake Fire Rescue 2019 5K Run-Walk on Oct. 19. For more information, call 727-784-8668.