One of the highlights for our girls this summer was visiting a fire station. We visited Ottawa Fire Station 23 (Carling & Kirkwood) because my husband knows the Platoon Chief. But you can visit any station in the city and they will give you a tour as part of Ottawa's Fire Safety Program. If you are interested in going for a tour call the fire education department of the city to set up a time (click here to find a fire station near you.
Our tour started in the Platoon Office where the staffing of all 29 fire stations is controlled. Next we were led through the station to the garage to meet our guide (a nice rookie who was great with kids) to see the fire trucks. Station 23 has two main pumper trucks and one ladder truck. Our guide explained how trucks are dispatched when a call come in and that some stations don't have enough staff to operate all the equipment at any particular time.
The girls got to sit in the truck and see and touch the equipment that firefighters use when they are fighting a fire. The parents also got to pick up and carry bags of equipment to feel how heavy they are. The firefighters need to carry these bags of equipment up countless flights of stairs.
The kids were a little nervous about all of the big equipment so our very nice rookie took us to the kitchen to see where they prepared and ate all their meals. Firefighters are on duty for 24 hour shifts (yes, they sleep and eat at the station) and they have to be ready to go to a call anytime. This is why you often see firetrucks at the grocery store. One time they got a call when they were grocery shopping and had a full cart of groceries!
Station 23 is one of the older stations in Ottawa and even has a fire pole. Newer stations are only one floor and no longer have fire poles.
The end of the tour led us back to the garage where the girls got a chance to help wash the fire truck. They were happily scrubbing away when a call came in over the speakers. We moved to the back of the garage and got to see all the fire fighters get suited up, get into the trucks and drive out onto Carling Ave with sirens blaring.