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Fire Station Birthday Party is Red Hot!


What more could a five-year-old want than to spend his birthday party with local heroes and ride on a big, red fire truck? My son Cade had the party of his dreams, which we called his "Fire Station Celebration," at Bakersfield City's Historical Fire Station One located on the corner of 21st and H Streets.

Since a toddler, Cade has pretended to be a firefighter, even donning all-red clothing for days on end. Every time he would see someone wearing their uniform, he would manipulate my head towards them and say, "Mom! Look! There's a firefighter!" And, you can imagine his excitement when he would see a truck with its siren blaring.

I knew his five-year-old birthday party would have a "Firefighter" theme, but I never dreamed we could actually have it at the fire station itself. So, when I saw that I could bid on this type of party at a local fundraising event, I was determined to win it, and I did.

Battalion Chief Garth Milam helped me schedule Cade's party and make all the arrangements. He said that the Bakersfield Fire Department (BFD) only gives around 12 parties each year for "special circumstances" or as non-profit donations.

I made the invitations complete with a bright red fire truck embellishment. Karen Sherman, co-owner of A Good Time Out, made Cade the perfect fire hydrant cake adorned with metal bolts and chains. BFD supplied the paper products, goody-bag giveaways, fire chief hats, and venue.

The tables were set up in Station One's bay right next to an impressive fire engine and adjacent to one of the kids' favorite party activities the infamous pole! Under the direction of Battalion Chief Bill Ballard, Engineer Steve Hamblet and Firefighters Aaron Dow and Chris Campbell provided the rest of the activities. The kids toured the dormitory, kitchen, and command center and received a lesson on tools and fire safety.

Dow dressed from head-to-toe in his turnout gear, which weighs more than 100 pounds. He says it's important for kids to realize that the gear only looks scary, but it really protects them from the fire and smoke. "Kids get scared when they see this [his mask] coming towards them in a fire," he says. "They need to know they can trust us in emergency situations."

The highlight of the party fire engine rides! Each guest including their parents rode in the cab of the fire truck and saw downtown Bakersfield from a whole new vantage point. Dow summed it up when he said the ride was "truly the icing on the cake."

The children and parents were all excited and giddy about such an adventure. Four-year-old partygoer Ethan Keller said, "This is the best ride I have ever been on!" And, Cade beamed as he sat on the fire engine while he opened his many presents and said, "This is the best birthday party ever!"

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