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Junior firefighters thrilled to rise to the challenge

Two-year-old Camryn Garden learns how to put out a fire in the firefighter relay.

Story and photos by Sharon Harrison
The thrills and spills of learning about firefighting were ablaze in a frenzy of excitement at the Wellington and District Community Centre Saturday.

In a day put together by the Consecon and Wellington Fire Department, children aged five to 12 years were invited to participate in the PEC Junior Firefighter Challenge.

“We put this event together today to get the kids out and hopefully to raise some money for local groups like the foodbank and children in the community,” said Captain Brent Insley.

The Grahams – Addison, 11, Jude, seven, Payden, nine and Kendall, six, with Sparky the Fire Dog at the firefighter challenge.

The inaugural event saw fire and rescue trucks on display, including Wellington’s old GMC 9700. There were fire prevention booths, loot bags and Sparky the Fire Dog greeted all. Firefighters and equipment were brought in for the day from the Wellington, Hillier and Consecon fire department areas, District 6, where exploration of, and sitting in a few of the trucks was encouraged.

But the highlight of the day, aside from the departments’ big red shiny fire truck with its impressive 107-foot aerial ladder, was the kids’ firefighter relay which proved exceedingly popular and kept firefighters on their toes as a busy stream of children took up the challenge.

Four-year-old Parker Garden hauls fire hose in the firefighter relay.

The relay allowed children to wear pint-sized fire fighter jackets and pants and kid-sized fire helmets as they tackled the course coached by local firefighters.

The fast-paced course included crawling or running through a short fire tunnel, dragging a dummy body (made with hoses) to safety, pulling a hose as fast as possible, a board bang involving the use of a mallet and a piece of wood and picking up the hose and putting out a pretend fire with a powerful jet of water. Participants then ran to the kid-sized wooden fire truck to ring the bell signalling the completion of the course.

Following in the footsteps of his firefighter dad, two-year-old Jackson Gilbert scrambles through the fire tunnel.

“We have a circuit going today so they are riding through a scenario and pulling hoses, and once they go through the whole scenario, they get a free hotdog at the end,” said Captain Insley.

Junior Firefighters learned how to put out a fire.

Each child also proudly received a certificate acknowledging their participation in the relay.

The free outdoor event, enjoyed by many young families, was held at the far end of the parking lot and included live music and a barbecue. It was designed around fire awareness and what to do in case of an emergency – as well as being an opportunity to have fun and to raise funds for many worthwhile community projects.

Six-year-old Quinn of Bloomfield trying out the big fire truck and a big helmet.

“We have ladder trucks here. We have different events such as a safety trailer with a home escape plan and how to get out of your house, and there is a simulation of how to get out,” said Insley, also noting the offering of fresh fries and some good times.

“Hopefully,” he said, “it’s about getting out to local kids and giving back to the community which we belong to.”

‘Fill the Boot’ donations collected at the event will benefit initiatives including the Wellington Foodbank, Wellington’s Canada Day fireworks, families in need and local charities.

“This is the first time we did this one, but we obviously do the parades and other stuff. This is something a couple of my new guys said they wanted to try and do, so I said yes, set it up,” said Insley.

Insley hopes to be able to carry the challenge on in future years and to possibly make it an annual event.

Adrian Morris, 3, with Nina Rogers was thrilled to have his photo taken with Sparky the Fire Dog mascot

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