In an effort to build a stronger bond between the Pine Island community and the Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Department, an open house was held Saturday at the island department. Several hundred people attended and enjoyed face painting, hot dogs, drinks and new experiences.
"We came out from Cape Coral this morning," Brad Robins said. "My daughter got to hold the fire hose and shoot water at a plastic cone. She's pretty good at it maybe she'll want to become a fireman or is it fire girl?"
"This is the first annual Fire Department Open House," fire inspector Christi Roman said. "And even though we only had a few weeks to plan this, the turnout from the community is excellent. We want to make this an every year event.
Youngsters and parents listen to a firefighter describe “Stop, Drop and Roll” at the Smoke Trailer from Cape Coral.
"The purpose behind this open house is to let the community know about all of the different organizations that are available to serve them," Roman said. "There's Lee Flight, Lee County EMS and C.R.O.W. It's not uncommon for islanders to call the fire department when there's an injured bird on their property when they really need to call C.R.O.W."
The Clinic for the Rehabilitation of Wildlife (CROW) is a teaching hospital and visitor center dedicated to saving wildlife through state-of-the-art veterinary care, research, education and conservation medicine. The organization's primary mission is the rescue, care, rehabilitation and eventual release back to the wild of sick, injured and orphaned wildlife.
"CERT is here (Community Emergency Response Team)," Roman said. "Which is perfect for hurricane season. CERT educates people about disaster preparedness. Today they are also looking for volunteers."
Scott Bialy from the State Fire Marshall Bomb Squad was there to explain the unit's "robot."
"We use this to handle packages of a suspicious nature," he said.
"We can put Hazmat chemical monitors, disruption tools, almost anything we can come up with can be applied to this robot. We can open doors for the SWAT team, if the entry is wide enough the robot can go into buildings. We also have two robots smaller than this one and one larger."
The Lee County Sheriff's Department volunteers were there to fingerprint the children.
"One of the most important things we have here today is the Smoke Trailer donated from Cape Coral," Roman said. "It teaches kids to Stop, Drop and Roll and they actually get to climb through a window. This is a great way to learn about what to do in a real fire."
"This is my first time to the fire department," Scott Simpson said. "I'm here to show my support for the Fire Department and all they do for the community."
Sponsors of the First Annual Matlacha/Pine Island Fire Department Open House included Spectrum Air Condition-ing, Circle K, Bobby Holloway, Publix, Dairy Queen, Mike Greenwells, One Blood, PI Fire Auxiliary, Waterfront Restaurant, Mel's Diner, Matteo Signs, Winn Dixie and Angling Adventure of Southwest Florida.