Firing Up the Kids

It was supposed to be a trip for the kids.
That the adults chaperoning the nursery school visit to the Callicoon Firehouse last week were equally awed was to be expected.
Fire Prevention Week gives kids across the nation a rare look inside a firehouse – or at the very least a firetruck – each year. Luckily for us, it does the same for newspaper reporters.
Last week, I was luckier still doing double duty as the reporter on the scene and the Mom lending a hand.
I was one of those awed adults.
Somehow, it doesn’t matter how often I get inside a firehouse for a story, how familiar the faces have become.
There’s a little part of me that still remembers that first ride in a firetruck in kindergarten on Fire Prevention Week, a plastic chief’s helmet on my head, my heart racing, my cheeks stinging from the width of the grin.
Kids dream of growing up to fight fires.
The fact that it’s one of those danger-filled jobs is part of the appeal.
Kids love to be scared, to listen to campfire stories or leap from the couch just to feel what it’s like to fall.
It’s something we too often lose as we grow up, get dosed one time too much with reality and stop taking risks.
But step inside a firehouse, and a bit of it comes back.
It helps that we have firefighters here in Sullivan County who are volunteer professionals, grown-ups who have enough of a child’s heart to take on the danger and just enjoy the ride.
Leading a big bunch of kids (some slightly taller than others) around the Callicoon Firehouse last week, Fire Chief Willy Maxwell and Fireman Roy Sumfleth (head of the board of fire commissioners) imparted the same old information without once giving it the same old feel.
These guys love what they do – despite the danger, the (non-existent) pay, the ever-growing list of edicts from the state.
They’re grown-ups who get to be little kids again, and for little kids, they’re a bunch of grown-up heroes.

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