COVID-19 put a stop to many of Florissant Fire Protection District’s community outreach activities, at least temporarily.
But Renee Bunting, Teller County Sheriff’s Office community outreach deputy, saw an opportunity for firefighters and first responders to connect with kids during the stay-at-home period. What better way than a Birthday Drive-By with a convoy of fire and emergency vehicles to make children, while isolated from seeing school friends, feel extra special on their birthdays?
She contacted Chief Tyler Lambert of NE Teller Fire District in Woodland Park, who passed the idea onto the other nine fire districts in the Teller County Fire Chiefs Association — including Florissant Fire Protection District.
Chief Chad Bauer thought the Birthday Drive-By concept was a perfect fit with Florissant Fire Protection District’s Florissant Cares program.
So, special fire truck “Reggie” and some of the other fire trucks, as well as Teller County Deputies and Ute Pass Regional Health Service District’s Ambulance, were called on to drive by the hose of a child celebrating a birthday, sirens wailing and lights flashing, with personnel waving to wish the child “Happy Birthday.”
“It was great seeing the smiling faces, and knowing we made their day a little brighter, made it worth it,” said Bauer. “We wanted to let the community know we are not just a volunteer fire department that is reached through calling 911, we are also part of the community and want to offer more.”
Bauer worked with Tiffany Hutson, who does public relations for the district, to coordinate the drive-bys.
“We are fortunate to live and operate in this community, but we want to be able to reach out more right now (with) the uncertainty of our Pancake Breakfast and other planned events are on hold,” said Hutson. “The Birthday Drive-By, even though a small gesture, has allowed us (Florissant Fire Protection District) to somewhat fulfill the mission of Florissant Cares and to give back to the community that supports us every day.”
She added, “We were excited about our program that gave us a chance to meet the people in our community in a fun way, rather than seeing them on their worst day.”
This sort of outreach is a way of giving back to the community that supports the firefighters, making it possible to maintain their equipment, train volunteers, and offer fire protection for the community.