The Fire! Fire! program is designed to pique young children's interest in firefighting, safety and suiting up for a fire. Invited firefighters read three books to the children and, after a safety demonstration, we head out to our loading dock where a fire vehicle is inspected and enjoyed.
I contacted the firefighters' administrative office six months in advance, trying to stay clear of the summer and autumn fire season. I found a compatible time when the Library Forum Room was free for the event and when the loading dock was free for the fire truck to park for about an hour late in the afternoon after delivery times.
It's always a challenge hoping for a fire-free time for the program. If there is no fire-free time available, the plan B always involves the librarian reading some exciting books, followed by the distribution of coloring sheets. Luckily this has never happened, though.
Aside from a gift for our presenters, this is a free event for the library. We usually give the firefighters a gift of candy. This year it was a $50 Starbucks card.
Seventy-five chairs were put out for the parents, and the event began at 4 p.m. The kids, who are encouraged to wear anything that a firefighter might wear (such as raincoats, hats and t-shirts), sat on a rug that was in front of the chairs. The firefighters had a table and chairs in the front and they took turns reading the books.
On the day of the event, the program was almost canceled because of an unexpected city-wide drill that many firefighters needed to take part in.
Roughly 200 parents and children came to the program. We received a great deal of feedback, but we did not seek it formally. The feedback was all positive, with many positive comments posted on Facebook.
The kids loved interacting with the team. Everyone received a badge, and all the children were able to climb through the firetruck and ring the bell. The children felt valued and important, lots of photos were taken with the truck, and the parents liked asking the firefighters questions.
All of the books I displayed were checked out, and the books on firefighting (both picture books and nonfiction) continue to go out all the time. Goals were achieved and the local newspaper featured a wonderful article 10 days later on the front page of the local news section on Sunday.
Parents want more programs like this that will empower their children and bring the community friends together.
Be sure and confirm a week or so before the program. Have a plan B in place in case the firefighters are unable to visit.
About This Library
With 14 branches, large and small, the Sonoma County Library serves a population of almost 500,000 county-wide. We are known nationally for our innovation and locally for our connection to our residents and communities. We are a community hub where learning, the arts, technology and people intersect and thrive. Our staff is known throughout the community for being engaged, empowered, energized and ubiquitous.