If your house is littered with toy fire engines, dress-up firefighter helmets (with or without built-in siren), and a yellow or red faux fireman raincoat with matching boots, you might be the mom of a firefighter groupie. A legion of fans more devoted than Beiber’s, these little wannabes get wide-eyed at the sound of sirens and the flash of a fire truck roaring by at hyper-speed. And who can blame them? These everyday heroes are a truly awe-inspiring bunch. So, if your mini me crushes on red, be sure to check out these hot spots to show a little firefighter love this summer. And get ready to ignite some excitement in your little one!
Visit the Last Resort Fire Department Museum
Firefighter enthusiasts of all ages will be clamoring for more after a visit to the Last Resort Fire Department Museum. Think of it as the historical register for Seattle’s firefighting past, and you’ve nailed the cool factor of this completely volunteer-run museum. Here, they house everything from the first fire apparatus ever purchased by the city of Seattle (a hand drawn, hand operated pump known as the “Sacramento”) to the city’s oldest fire engine (circa 1930’s), alongside an entire fleet of classic, antique fire engines and other rigs that will tickle your little one firefighter red. And while the wee ones are busy marveling at the antique vehicles, parents will marvel at how far technology has taken our city’s firefighting efforts. And as if that wasn’t enough awesome, the Last Resort Museum is always free. That’s right, there’s never a charge for entry, so your mini fire chief can enjoy this one over and over and over again.
Good to know: The Last Resort Fire Department Museum is not a hands-on, climb around and explore experience for kiddos (Be sure to head to the Pioneer Fire Festival so your kiddos can climb on an antique engine.). All of the vehicles on display are irreplaceable antiques. But that doesn’t mean that the littles are left out. Just pick up an artifact treasure hunt before you start exploring, and the minis will be entertained and educated all at the same time!
Last Resort Fire Department Museum
Seattle Fire Department Headquarters
301 2nd Avenue South
Seattle, Wa 98104
Dates and Times: Wednesdays and Thursdays in the summer, 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Visit Your Local Fire Station
Getting an up-close glimpse of your local firefighting heroes is probably easier than you think. Sure, you can catch them at firefighter story time this fall, or out and about in the neighborhood, if you’re lucky. Or you could just ring their bell and drop in for a visit, like you do with other neighbors. Say what? It’s true! Visitors are welcome to drop by their local fire station for an impromptu tour any time. That’s assuming there aren’t any emergencies that need responding to. And just like they do on reality TV, you and the tot lot can experience the real workings of a firehouse, exploring the apparatus bay, the many engines and super cool tools within, even talk with real firefighters about what they do. It’s way better than the Housewives! Seattle’s bravest are always excited to share their passion with the community, and opening their doors to local residents is one of the many ways they’re able to do that. And rumor has it they dig homemade things, like cards and paintings to hang on the wall (or even cookies!). So if you’re feeling a bit crafty, arty or creative, feel free to pass along some of that love on your visit. That’s icing on the cake for the kiddos!
Good to know: Larger groups are welcome to visit the stations too, but a little more planning needs to go on up front. Just call or email the Seattle Fire Department to make arrangements.
Attend an Opening
Sure firefighters can put out fires and look super cool on ladders. But did you know they also throw fab open house parties? That’s right, just like the rest of us, the Seattle Fire Department likes to show off their new digs whenever they move into (or renovate) a new space. This summer, the SFD unveils Fire Station 40 in Wedgewood on August 10, from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm. A completely family friendly event, expected to attract upwards of 2,000 people in attendance, this is a great way for families to explore the fire station and get a thorough tour. The fire engines will also be out for photo ops with their fans. No autographs, please. And the cadets are excited to show off their skills during an impressive demonstration that may inspire your toddlers to get dressed just a little faster in the morning (cadets have to get their gear on in 60 seconds or less!). And as any good host should, the department will have some goodies on hand to celebrate the opening, so save room for Top Pot donuts and coffee. It’s pretty much the perfect toddler party!
Good to know: If you can’t make this open house, fear not, there are four other open houses scheduled this fall. Be sure to check with the Seattle Fire Department Upcoming Events for locations and dates (hint: they’re always on Saturdays from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm). The next one up is in Georgetown, followed by Freemont, Queen Anne and Madison Park (some time in November).
Fire Station 40
9401 35th Avenue NE
Seattle, Wa 98115
Date and Time: August 10 from 11:00 am – 1:00 pm
Did you know the Seattle Fire Fighters make over 600 public appearances a year? Here are a few of our don’t-miss, family-friendly summer favorites:
Pioneer Square Fire Festival
The Pioneer Square Fire Festival is the hot spot for firefighter groupies of all ages this summer. The event, which celebrates the spirit and resilience of the people of Seattle in the aftermath of the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, is going on its 42nd year. A true family favorite, and groupie must-do, this festival’s got it all for the petit fire fanatic in your family. The little lot will get a hoot out of cheering on mom, dad or a big sib in the Are You Faster Than a Cadet competition, where participants race to get on their bunker gear as quickly as they can. Or let them play at the Smoke Crawl, or the Pump Can game where, you guessed it, kiddos get to try their hand at wielding a (much smaller than normal) fire hose. And Pluggie, the talking fire hydrant, will amaze and educate passing youngsters as they stroll around to check out the vintage fire trucks, police cruisers and even an ambulance or two.
While you’re there be sure to take advantage of the free museums in the area. The Last Resort Fire Department Museum, The Seattle Metropolitan Police Museum, and the Klondike Gold Rush National Park will all be open to the public, and there’s no charge for admission. Then, around 1:00 pm get ready for the Fire Department’s Pipes and Drums (Scottish bagpipes rule!) as they honor the 100th anniversary of the oldest motorized fire truck, which will also be on display. This is one fire-filled event that’s sure to please everyone!
Good to know: Although there isn’t food at the festival itself, there’s a lot available in the area. Be sure to check out Swannies Sports Bar, which opens its doors to families just once a year and offers kid’s meals for around $3.
Pioneer Square Fire Festival
Occidental Square Park (Between South Main Street & South Washington Street, and between 1st and 2nd Avenue South)
Date and Time: July 13 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm
Queen Anne Days
The people at the top of the hill sure know how to throw a party, and they’ve invited everyone to join in during this year’s Queen Anne Days. Fire Engine 8, and her crew, will be set up for little fans to climb around and explore from 12:00 pm – 2:00 pm on the west side of the building at 1901 1st Avenue West. The kiddos will have a chance to test out gear, and explore the truck. It’s amazing how many gadgets there are on a fire engine. A true engineer’s delight! Chat with the firefighters and snap some pics, before you head out to enjoy some of the other festivities.
The kiddie parade, which starts at 10:30 am at the corner of 1st West and Crockett Street, is a great chance for the little ones to don their best fire fighting gear. Costumes are encouraged and the theme is wide open! When hunger strikes, head over to the Queen Anne Community Center for a little bit of BBQ. The grilling begins at noon and the last bit of yummy will be served at 3:00 pm sharp, so be sure to eat up. Between the firefighters, bouncy house and parade, we’re pretty sure the kids will go home happy!
Queen Anne Days
The top of Queen Anne Hill
Date and Time: July 13 from 7:00 am – 6:00 pm
Fireboat Water Display
When people think firefighters, it’s hard not to picture a big red engine. But our firefighters work in the water too, on two different fireboats you’ve probably seen around Elliott Bay. And if you haven’t seen one of their water displays, get ready to be amazed this summer. These events don’t come around too often, so set your iPhone alarm to go off Tuesday, July 23rd, between 12:15 pm and 12:45 pm. The Leschi will be showing off her stuff that afternoon with a water display to dazzle and delight passersby and passengers. Just head on over to Pier 55 for the best view.
SDOT’s Summer Streets
Who doesn’t love a good street party? We sure do! And the Seattle Department of Transportation throws the best kind around. The car-free kind where imagination, creativity and people powered transportation rules the streets. There are two summer street fairs for families to look forward to. The first, on Friday, August 9th from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm in PhinneyWood will be a chance for everyone to check out the local fire department, because it’s right smack dab in the middle of the closed-off street. The fire crew will throw open the bay doors, and welcome walkers, bikers, joggers and strollers into the apparatus bay for a little exploration, and plenty of photo ops. Could there be anything cuter than kiddos in oversized fire helmets riding the big rig? We think not.
The second celebration will be held on Saturday, August 17th from 11:00 am – 4:00 pm in Rainier Valley. And the hours couldn’t be better for the wee ones. Let them party ‘til they drop for a late afternoon nap as you stroll home. Rainier Valley’s festival includes a parade that starts at 11:00 am and goes until 12:30 pm, and this is where you’ll see the firefighters in all their glory, riding atop the big red rig. Cheer from the sidelines for your neighborhood firefighters. Since this year’s theme is “Eat in the Street” families should pack a picnic blanket, some chairs and a brimming basket full of goodies (red riding hood not required). Then, take to the streets for a sweet summer picnic. Now that’s an easy plan!
What are your favorite firefighter activities and events? Share them with us in the comments below.
Photos thanks to: Seattle Fire Department, Mike Heaton, Last Resort Fire Department Museum website & Angela Alanis