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Sanibel fire district plans open house

By Staff | Mar 21, 2018

The Sanibel Fire and Rescue District is hosting its annual open house and everyone is invited.

Station 171 will be open to residents and visitors on March 24 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., with the fire apparatus and equipment on display, along with representatives from local agencies and organizations, a public safety trailer for “experiencing” a house fire, a dunk tank, free food and drinks, and more.

“The main purpose for the open house is to kind of give everyone an idea of the job that we do,” engineer paramedic John DiMaria, who is coordinating this year’s event, said. “We want them to see how we function, how we live – and we want to put friendly faces to us and have a good time.”

Every apparatus that the district has will be available for attendees to check out, including the brush truck, ladder truck and new engine. There will also be a Lee County EMS ambulance on display.

“They can touch things, see things,” DiMaria said.

There will be tours and an opportunity to interact with the crews.

The Sanibel Police Department will have a squad car on site, and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office SWAT Team will have its tactical vehicle. U.S. Coast Guard marine vessels will be on display.

The public safety trailer simulates a house fire to teach children what to do if one occurs.

“It’s a single-wide trailer that’s kind of built like a house,” he said, adding that it fills with fog.

One of the crew members, who is known for his engineering and building skills, will have a fully-functional life-sized R2-D2 on hand that he created. It will actually moved around the station.

“We’re going to have a dunk tank here this year,” DiMaria said.

Youth will have a chance to dunk a firefighter, who will be dressed in their gear.

“The kids are going to try to dunk them for a prize or something,” he said.

Organizations including the Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife, J.N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge and Gulf Coast Humane Society will have booths with informational materials.

CROW will have some rescued animals, while the Humane Society will have adoptable animals.

DiMaria explained that visitors and some residents may not be familiar with the groups.

“They may not know that these organizations exist and what they do,” he said. “It’s to kind of give them an opportunity to interact with the different organizations.”

Deejay music will keep things upbeat.

Free hotdogs, chips, popcorn and drinks, along with ice cream, will keep the crowd full.

DiMaria encouraged both citizens and island visitors to stop by.

“The more people we reach out to, the better,” he said.

For more information, contact 239-472-5525 or jdimaria@sanibelfire.com.

Station 171 is at 2351 Palm Ridge Road, Sanibel.