News, Police/Fire

Lynn firehouse tours are virtually possible

Randy Todd, 6, watches a virtual tour of the Lynn Fire Department on Wednesday afternoon. (Olivia Falcigno)

LYNN — If you can’t bring the children to the fire station, you do the next best thing. You bring the fire station to the children.

Virtually, of course.

The Lynn Fire Department has offered tours of its various locations for decades.

“In an average year, we let children and their families, Cub Scouts and other organizations tour the fire stations,” said Capt. Joseph Zukas. “But we can’t do that now because of social distancing (and other COVID-19 restrictions).”

And the department, from the top down, felt  as if the children in the City of Lynn were missing out.

“We have built up a relationship with schools and teachers by doing this,” said Lynn Fire Chief Stephen Archer. “They can’t come to the firehouses this year because of COVID, so we felt these virtual tours were a great way to reach out to the kids and have an impact on them. It’s a great way to stay connected.”

So, with the help of firefighter Ryan Newhall, who conceived and organized the video, and Erichson Seang, who filmed it, the department produced a 15-minute virtual tour. The video can be seen on YouTube.

“(These tours) are a big deal,” said Zukas. “We’re seen as community heroes. I appreciate that the public likes us and respects us. It’s nice to be in a job where you’re always seen positively by the public.”

The film goes through all aspects of the job, not just with firefighting, but with instruments such as the Jaws of Life, which are used to extricate victims from vehicles after auto accidents.

Also included in the video are instructions for testing smoke alarms, the parts of a fire engines, the equipment and protective gear the firefighters wear during fires, the personal protective equipment they wear to protect themselves from getting the COVID-19 virus, and medical equipment the rescue squad brings with it when responding to calls.

The part of the video that showed the different parts of Fire Engine 1 was filmed at the fire station in the Highlands of Lynn — a few doors down from 6-year-old Ingalls School kindergartner Randy Todd and his sister, Alaynna.

“(Randy) was amazed,” said his mother, Nicky. “He kept talking about how he wanted to be a firefighter.

“He loves it. He was looking out the window while they were filming it. Now, he keeps looking outside to see if he can see one of the firefighters.”

All aspects of the video are included in the real tours the department gives to different schools and groups. If anyone can appreciate what this tour means, it’s Zukas.

“As a kid, I used to go on the tour,” he said. “The kids like to come in, hear the sirens, and sound the air horns.”

Archer said the department also offers zoom conferences with children so they can have a chance to speak with firefighters.

“We have had a tremendously positive response to this initiative,” said Archer. “We are incredibly proud of (both Newhall and Seang), as well as of all the firefighters who participated in this video.”

The link to the YouTube video is https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=youtu.be&v=FdWnK3TOBHk&app=desktop

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