A fun-filled fire department open house

sbirkenmeyer@vagazette.com

Members of the Williamsburg Fire Department offered an inside look at their facilities and operations with a public open house Saturday. It capped off the nationwide Fire Prevention Week, offering a way to convey safety tips and build a relationship with the public.

“It creates an atmosphere where we’re able to engage the community,” said Deputy Fire Chief Larry Snyder. “They’re the ones who pay for all this.”

The fire department used to host annual open houses years back, and after a hiatus, the concept returned in 2014.

Guests had the opportunity to explore fire trucks, put out small test fires and tour the station. Vendors like Riverside Doctors’ Hospital and Sentara supplemented the educational aspect of the event.

“It’s been busy all day,” said Tammy Rojek, a public works administrative assistant representing the city at the open house.

She said people were lined up to enter when the event started at 10 a.m., and she appreciated the day’s cloudy yet dry weather.

Hurricane Matthew canceled last year’s affair, but some clouds overhead couldn’t rain on this year’s parade.

Chad Beaty brought his kids to show them what the fire department is like and what the team inside must face.

“It’s a cool opportunity to see what firefighters do and see how they serve our community,” he said, adding that it’s a plus that there’s no actual fires involved here. “It’s just a cool experience for them.”

Ultimately, it’s a show of gratitude from the fire department to the community, and an opportunity to explore something that’s just plain cool whether you’re 8 or 80.

“We seem to have had really solid numbers,” Snyder said. “The feedback’s been positive.”

Birkenmeyer can be reached by phone at 757-790-3029.

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