Not everyone can say they had firefighters roll up to their birthday party in a fire engine with lights and sirens – but 100 Saanich children can.
As of June 9, firefighters from the Saanich Fire Department marked 100 drive-by birthday celebrations amid the pandemic. After noticing that many kids were missing out on the standard birthday party festivities due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in mid-April, Saanich fire established a drive-by birthday program for kids under 12.
Saanich firefighters attended their 100th drive-by for a boy’s fourth birthday party. Crews attended in a fire truck with a big cake and Sparky the Fire Dog even made an appearance.
Yesterday was another milestone for us as we celebrated our 100th birthday drive-by! Benjamin was turning 4 & we surprised him with a special birthday 🎂cake & visit from @Sparky_Fire_Dog! Birthday drive-bys will conclude @ the end of June. Go to https://t.co/MB5nZavqKe 4 more pic.twitter.com/ed6E2EPaah
— Saanich Fire (@SaanichFire) June 10, 2020
The drive-by birthday celebrations became a way for Saanich firefighters to stay connected with the community safely in a time when interactions are limited, explained Capt. Carl Trepels.
Happy 4th birthday to Noah! Engine 1 stopped by to share some birthday cheer!! If you have a child who loves fire trucks and is under the age of 12, contact us by email email@example.com #HappyBirthday #StaySafeStayHome #washyourhands #benicetoyourparents pic.twitter.com/hmWvZ3L8cf
— Saanich Fire (@SaanichFire) April 23, 2020
He added that summer is typically when the department does a lot of outreach but this year, station tours and other community events that firefighters typically attend – such as the Music in the Park series, Strawberry Festival and the Canada Day picnic at the Gorge – are cancelled.
“These engagements had to be cancelled as a result of provincial health regulations, so we explored different ways to connect with the community while keeping our crews and public safe,” Trepels explained.
After hearing that fire departments in the lower mainland had implemented drive-by birthday celebrations, the Saanich Fire Department decided to join in on the fun, he said.
Engine 1 stopped by and wished Beckett Happy Birthday 🥳 today!
— Saanich Fire (@SaanichFire) April 20, 2020
“Since first posting the initiative on Twitter back in early April, we have been doing daily runs,” Trepels said. “The response from the community has been fantastic and the children are always so happy to see us.”
He added that being out in the community and helping kids celebrate with lights, sirens and a loudspeaker was just as fun for the firefighters.
In some cases, celebrations had the be postponed due to emergencies that required firefighters, but crews always made sure to come by the party once the emergency was under control, he explained.
Despite all the fun, Trepels said the drive-by birthdays are coming to an end with the last party scheduled for June 30. Anyone wanting to book a drive-by before the end of June can contact the Fire Prevention office at 250-475-5500 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Requests should be made at least two days prior to the birthday and must include the date and time, the address, the name and age of the child and contact information.