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Open House gives community an opportunity to visit Cape fire stations

By Staff | Oct 16, 2011

Cape Coral firefighter Donald Archambault tells Donald Bolinger, 13, about how firefighters communicate inside a fire truck during the department's open house Saturday. Bolinger, who visited Station 1, has plans to become a firefighter. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA

The community had the opportunity to take a tour of the firefighters’ living quarters at all of the fire stations in Cape Coral, along with sitting in the fire trucks and asking staff any questions they had Saturday morning during the second annual open house.

Fire Chief William Van Helden said the open house is a great opportunity for his staff to educate the public as to what they do along with reaching the hearts of the children.“They join the profession because they care a great deal and today is an opportunity to show that,” he said. “They love what they do.”Van Helden said the open house also provides an opportunity for the firefighters to interact with children when there was not a life-changing moment occurring.

He said the couple of hours that the stations were open to the public provided the children with the opportunity to become familiar with what the guys look like, so they do not associate fear with firefighters in case they have to come to their home.

After visiting the majority of the fire stations Saturday, Van Helden said he anticipates that a couple thousand came out to one of the 10 stations. He said they will continue to hold the open house every year because it is a great opportunity for his staff to talk to everyone.

Division Chief Jim Heikkila visited many stations as well on Saturday to see how the open house was going. He said the event provided residents with the opportunity to meet the firefighters, ask questions and play on the fire trucks.

Cape Coral Fire Lt. Damon Alimonti shows Liam Minor, 3, a piece of equipment used by firefighters who visited Station 1, during the department's open house Saturday. More photos are available online at: cu.cape-coral-daily-breeze.com. MICHAEL PISTELLA

Heikkila said Saturday gave them the opportunity to expose their greatest secret because it’s the community’s local fire station.

Amy Morris visited Station 1 with her two children Quinn, 5 and Corrie, 2 on Saturday because they recently moved to Cape Coral from Naples. She said the trip to the fire station stemmed from the question her son Quinn asked of what they should do if there was a fire at their home.

The firefighters told Quinn not to hide and to wake up his mommy and daddy.

Morris said it is important for the kids to have an understanding of what firefighters look like in case they have to come to their house.

“I think it’s cool, it’s great for the younger kids to get exposed,” she said about the open house. “It is great to be able to support them because they support us.”

Judy Bolinger brought her 13-year-old son Donald to the open house because he is interested in becoming either a paramedic or fireman when he becomes an adult.

Donald was in his element Saturday as he sat in the fire trucks and asked the firefighters questions about their shifts and equipment with a smile plastered on his face the entire time.

His mother, Judy said he loves helping others, which she thinks is why he is leaning towards becoming a firefighter or paramedic.

“It’s just what you gotta do, pretty much,” Donald said about helping others.

Judy said she was glad she brought her son to the open house..

“I thought it was great,” she said.

Angela Fariello, a Community Emergency Response Team volunteer, also attended the open house Saturday to provide a helping hand to the firefighters. She said the event was her first actual outing since she graduated in March.

“I think it’s great,” she said about the open house. “It brings awareness to the community.”

Fariello said the age groups that came out Saturday ranged from very young children to senior citizens. She said they handed out coloring books and pamphlets to those who stopped by the fire station.