Those of you who have spent much time with Ryder will know that he’s a pretty big fan of heavy duty trucks and vehicles. Previously, Caitlin has described the amount of joy that he gets from watching the cars and trucks outside our windows. So, when Caitlin arranged a firehouse tour (pics) for all of us, we knew it was going to b big for Ryder. To provide context, Cait spoke to her friend Katie whose husband is a firefighter for the Waukegan fire department. We picked a date, drove out to their house one Saturday. Katie led the vehicular caravan to the station to meet up with Mark who was on shift at the station. When Mark greeted us at the station’s back door, we began to feel like firehouse VIPs. It was raining that day, which thankfully decreased the likelihood of Mark being pulled away on an actual call. No surprise, the fire engine was the primary item of interest on Ryder’s list. (Actually, he probably didn’t have a fully-formed list, but I can vouch for his interest in the fire engine). Mark wasted no time in showing us over to the fire engine (which he later clarified as combination ladder truck-pump truck). Ryder got to climb in the cabin, sit in the driver’s seat, and even press a bunch of buttons in the truck’s cab. There was an ambulance in the parking garage and Ryder got to sit in the back of the ambulance. The vehicle tour was fantastic and heavily photographed.
Mark explained to the listening adults the difference between the ladder truck and a pump truck, as well as the kinds of activities he was uniquely qualified to perform in his role as a firefighter. We learned that firefighters got trained for half of the day – every day except for Saturdays, which they got to themselves. Mark showed us around the upstairs of the fire house where we got to see the recreation area, their in-house gym, the bunks, and even the padlocks on two of the three fridges. (According to Mark, a person could leave a $20 bill lying around and it would be safe for days, but an unwatched bag of chips would be gone in the blink of an eye). The grand finale of the tour was getting to see Mark slide down the fireman’s pole. Not one, but twice – parts of which we were able to capture on video. Then, to get everyone home before the coach turned back into a pumpkin, we had to make our way from Waukegan back to home sweet Chicago. We learned a lot on our firehouse tour – including that Waukegan has the best firefighters ever. When we read Richard Scarry’s Busiest Firefighters Ever book, Ryder still talks about Mark sliding down the pole. Just like Sparky, Snozzle, Smokey and Squirty.
Maisy was slightly less impressed.