HUDSON – The weather was perfect for a fall visit to the Hudson Fire and EMS building Oct. 8, as the safety force opened its doors as part of Fire Prevention Week.
Vehicles were on display from the fire, EMS and police departments, as well as a boat from the Ohio State Parks and Watercraft, a Humvee and a 10-ton dump truck from the Ravenna National Guard.
Kim Tausch and her two children from Pennsylvania were visiting family in Hudson and came for an afternoon of fun — and to teach the children about the safety forces.
Inspired children gazed on as firefighters used hydraulic tools and the “Jaws of Life” to remove a passenger door, lift a car and cut away a windshield. Children climbed into vehicles, visited the safety trailer or pulled a rescue basket.
Fire/EMS Chief Jerry Varnes said the focus was on the kids. There were 350 visitors, a new record, beating last year’s high of 300.
Children were given a BINGO card that helped them visit each station and win a prize, he said.
“We have interactive things,” Varnes said. “They can do the combat challenge, which is based on our entrance exam.”
Emily Fabian of Hudson watched as her two children went through an obstacle course as part of that challenge.
“It's good for them to get exposed to fire safety,” Fabian said.
One of the more popular vehicles was the Polaris Ranger XP utility vehicle, which can hold six people, Varnes said. The $32,000 vehicle is owned by Summit County, which purchased it with a grant, but they had no place to store it.
Hudson has set aside $25,000 for a similar vehicle in the 2018 budget, Varnes said. The fire department stores and maintains the vehicle for the county and takes it to events.
“We used it at the Hudson Fireworks and Taste of Hudson,” Varnes said. “It's an asset.”
Firefighters and family members helped to clean the station during the open house, and were on hand to demonstrate certain life-saving equipment and talk with the public. They also served food and drinks.
“It's a great way to meet the public in a non-stressful way,” Varnes said.
Some children seemed afraid of the gear, so they hung the helmet and jacket on a post where they could touch it. A cutout of a firefighter also provided for some good photo opportunities for mom and dad.
“It shows the gear is not a scary thing,” Varnes said. “It's a safety thing.”
Hudson Public Power was also on hand to talk about electricity safety. They, too, had their gear on display, and put on an electrical safety demonstration.
The young visitors climbed aboard a patrol boat brought by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Joe Vidron, of ODNR, said the department patrols water ways in Ohio, but not in Metro Parks or National Parks jurisdiction. They are also trained in rope rescue, Vidron said, and work in conjunction with the U.S. Coast Guard stations along Lake Erie.
Morgan and Katie McCausland of Hudson brought their twin boys, Jack and Braden, 4, to the event.
“Our kids love fire trucks,” Katie said.
“They always put on a great event for the kids,” Morgan added.