Written by Daniel Yi
Translated by Ariel Chan
Edited by Jiali Liu, Andrea Barkley
“Gratitude, Respect, and Love” was the focus of the November and December classes at the Tzu Chi Children Class in Sacramento, California. At 10:00 am on December 17, 2022, teachers from Tzu Chi’s children’s class led children aged two to eight and their parents to visit Fire Station No. 15.
Fires have continued to rage in the eastern mountains of Northern California for the past five years. The purpose of this visit to the fire station is to allow Tzu Chi children and their parents to understand the efforts of firefighters and first responders to protect the community and express gratitude towards them.
Captain Steve Icenbice runs Fire Station No. 15, a brand-new fire station in the Sacramento area. Parent Hanwei Huang organized this activity by contacting her colleagues and the school before finally reaching out to Captain Icenbice.
Fire fighting is high-risk work, and education and training are indispensable. The firefighters said that the government provides them with comprehensive education and training courses to gauge danger on the scene and respond to the situation.
One firefighter stated, “There is no such thing as a peaceful time. Someone takes the load for you when you’re not working,” The students, parents, and teachers thanked the firefighters for their service. Everyone agreed that they were courageous.
Broadened Horizons and Fire Protection Education
During the visit, the children learned about firefighters’ equipment, tried on firefighting uniforms, saw the gym, and opened sprinklers. However, the most exciting part for the children was visiting the fire trucks. Under the patient and detailed explanation of the firefighters, the children and parents learned that the fire truck is a logistics supply vehicle that provides oxygen, protective clothing, life support resources, and energy for firefighters and rescue personnel during disaster relief. They also learned about the facilities and equipment of an ambulance.
After a brief pre-departure talk, the activities of the day officially started. Both children and parents were full of anticipation to start the long-awaited visit to the fire station.
The guide pressed a bell, and firefighters appeared at the door with big smiles. They immediately welcomed the group warmly as soon as they opened the door. After a short conversation between the teachers and the firefighters, the firefighters led everyone into the fire truck garage.
At the invitation of the firefighters, the children boarded the fire truck with curiosity. Everything on the truck was novel and interesting to them. They safely tested out the equipment and gadgets. The children began to realize how dangerous the work of firefighters is. Every disaster relief requires perseverance and courage to complete the task safely and smoothly.
Finally, the firefighters dispensed water from a fire hose and showed how they filled a fire engine from a fire hydrant. The emergency personnel shocked everyone with the powerful fire hose. It sprays 1,000 gallons of water per minute from the top of the fire truck. Parents and children all exclaimed when they saw the fire water jet sprayed high and far. The firefighters also carefully explained when they use small and large water jets and other fire extinguishing methods in response to different fire scenes.
The children were curious about why several earphones were hanging in the fire truck. One firefighter said, “Because the equipment on the fire truck makes a lot of noise when the fire truck is driving, the firefighters on the car need to put on a headset to communicate about work.”
After all the fun, the children were reluctant to leave.
Good Karma and Blessings
The one-hour visit came to an end in a blink of an eye. Before the end of the activity, under the guidance of two teachers, the children took turns presenting to the firefighters the thank you cards they had made. The small cards carried the gratitude and admiration from every child for the firefighters.
The firefighters were very moved and presented red ribbons and gold stickers to the children. Captain Icenbice applauded the children for their actions and encouraged them to consider becoming first responders to make a difference in the community.
Adults and Children Learn Together
Zhongqi Yang, a parent, recalled, “I kept wanting to say, ‘wow, so cool!'” He also asked firefighter Aaron Williams to describe his five-year experience as a firefighter. Williams said, “The experience of being a firefighter makes me feel incredible. That my work can help others and has the potential to bring a person back to life is very meaningful.”
Zhongqi Yang said, “I know firefighting is a dangerous job. However, no matter what your original intention for this job, being able to describe it as ‘incredible’ is rare.”
Zhongqi Yang was grateful to the teachers of the Tzu Chi children’s class for organizing such a meaningful visit, which allowed him and the children to glimpse the work and life of firefighters.
Grateful for Touching and Fulfilling Interactions
Firefighter Aaron Williams continued, “We are proud to serve the community, but it feels good to be recognized by the community. We are here to protect and serve. It’s great to meet the future pillars of our community, their parents, and teachers.”
Williams also has warm encouragement and expectations for the children. He told the children, “To become a leader in the future, do the right thing. You must affirm your values even if no one is looking at you. Listen to your parents and work hard. Play your role well and take care of those in need, which is the best gift you can give to others. Today you are becoming role models by expressing your gratitude us, and it’s an attitude that everyone respects and learns from.”
Choong Kooi Chee and Yin Pei Lai, parents, shared after the event, “This was a good learning opportunity for both adults and children. I learned a lot today about firefighters. I am grateful for this opportunity today. This activity was excellent, and we should continue it.”
Their son Jian Loon Chee said, “The most fun thing was when they sprayed water with a big water pipe!”
Thanks to the teachers of the children’s class for arranging this visit and to the parents for taking the time out of their busy schedules to make posters and prepare gifts. This day will be a precious memory for the children on their life’s journey.