3 family-friendly places to learn about firefighters

Did you know October is Fire Prevention Month? What better time to learn more about heroic firefighters, their fire equipment and their rich history? Check out just a few of the ways you and your kids can celebrate and, of course, learn to stay safe.

Northern Illinois Fire Museum

NorthernIllinoisFireMuseum

Aurora Regional Fire Museum

53 N. Broadway, Aurora

Located in downtown Aurora, the Aurora Regional Fire Museum (housed in a former fire station built in 1894) showcases cool fire engines and artifacts, some which date back to the 1850s. The hands-on aspects of the exhibit are a really nice touch but the real wow factor is the Discovery Room, which is full of ride-on toys, more toy fire trucks and engines than you can imagine, puzzles, an adorable red play kitchen and a play area where you can put your own fire out with “water.”

Tip: If it’s not too busy have the front desk show you around and give you a tour. You may have a chance to hop in one of the engines!

Cost: $5 each person

Northern Illinois Fire Museum

9204 S. Route 23, Marengo

Every once in awhile my kids and I find a hidden gem that we can’t wait to share with the world. That is the case with the Northern Illinois Fire Museum. Located in Marengo in an inconspicuous building–they aren’t allowed to display signs–is a treasure trove of fire equipment that anybody with a love of history, vintage artifacts and firefighting will absolutely cherish.

It’s hard to believe but packed in that building were 18 firetrucks and engines and all sorts of other firefighting equipment. What a sight! Some of the trucks and engines were donated, some were acquired. Some dated back to the 1800s, some were working, some were being worked on, but they all came with a little story that our tour guide and museum curator, Steve, was proud to share.

During our tour–which felt as if our grandpa was showing us around his workshop–we had a chance to climb into the vintage equipment. Not just one or two, but almost every single one. The highlight for everyone in my family was a chance to take a ride a 1930 Ford fire engine in the parking lot. It was beyond cool!

If you’re expecting a fancy building and fancy signs, this is not for you. If you’re looking for an authentic experience where you can imagine yourself being transported to an era where firefighters fought on horse drawn carriages, this is the place for you. I have to say the tour at this museum is probably one of my most memorable. I even encourage you to support their efforts in relocating to a building where they can proudly display their artifacts and display their name with pride.

Cost: $5 each person. Call 815-568-8950 to schedule a tour.

FireZone

1100 National Pkwy., Schaumburg

FireZone is the ultimate play place for kids that love firefighting and fire trucks. Get started by having the kiddos try on kid-sized firefighter outfits then they’ll be off on their way! They’ll love climbing on the big red fire truck and pretending they’re putting out a fire, zipping down the fireman pole and crawling through tunnels. And little ones will adore whipping up a snack in the play kitchen. A few times during the day, staff members demonstrate equipment and teach the kids a little about fire safety. Check their schedule for drop-in hours.

Cost: $10 per child, first adult free then $5 each

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