On any given Wednesday in Schaumburg, firefighters climb on
trucks, uncoil hoses, slide down fire poles and make dispatch
calls. But they aren't your average firefighters heading off for a
brave rescue. These pint-sized firemen-and women-are having a blast
at FireZone, a
firehouse-themed play place.
FireZone, nestled in a nondescript industrial park in
Schaumburg, features a full-size fire truck kids can
"drive," a real ambulance to explore, and a house
where they can attempt a smoky rescue. Kids also enjoy the dispatch
center with phones and lots of buttons to press, plus a real fire
pole and hydrant. And, of course, there are tyke-sized fire jackets
so they can really look the part.
The facility is decorated with firefighting memorabilia
from local companies, adding to the environment. On good weather
days, kids will want to explore the real fire trucks parked
outside, which also makes for an excellent photo op.
Inside, they're adding a pretend fire house-complete with
recliners for tired firefighters to relax-and other fun elements
like a ball pit in the coming months. There also are several tables
so parents can have a seat while their kids burn off some
The most unique aspect of FireZone is the presence of real
firefighters who interact with the kids. I was impressed by one
fireman's natural rapport with a large, excitable audience of
little ones as he explained the different elements of a
firefighter's uniform and put them on so kids wouldn't be afraid.
Each session includes a "lesson" on fire safety that
makes it different from your average indoor play place.
In addition to birthday parties and field trips, FireZone
now offers weekly drop-in play (10 a.m.-1 p.m. Wednesdays) and
occasional weekend hours, as well as bimonthly KidVentures,
hour-and-a-half playtimes that include a craft project or
During our visit, some kids spent a lot of time
painstakingly decorating a badge, while others, like my nephew-who
had a fireman-themed birthday party this year-were more interested
in running, climbing and generally saving the day.
But they all seemed to be having the time of their lives
as they experienced one of childhood's favorite professions in
Elizabeth Diffin is the senior editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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