Fighting fire with fire safety

If your kid’s dream is to become a firefighter, why not let them sit behind the wheel of a fire engine and go on a search-and-rescue mission? Believe it or not, you can do just that.

The FireZone, 548 Zenith Drive in Glenview, lets kids experience firsthand the daily tasks of a firefighter. Co-owner/operator Ed Howard says The FireZone aims to give kids a sense of a firefighter’s job.

“We really like to have the kids get hands-on experience and engage in the fun environment.” says Howard."We just want to let their imaginations roam.”

The staff of full-time firefighters offers their expertise to children in The FireZone’s six-station Junior Firefighter Academy. Children begin with an introduction to firefighting through a show-and-tell session and get a chance to try out each position in The FireZone’s resident engine, Big Red. While onboard, the firefighters give the kids an overview of what each position requires during a real call.

“After they’ve tried out each position, we simulate the children arriving at the scene of a real call,” says Howard."In the scene, a cat is stuck in the window of a burning building and the kids use ladders to simulate a rescue.” After saving the helpless feline, kids get the chance to put out a simulated fire with extinguishers and then work alongside a partner to play a virtual reality arcade game that takes them inside a burning building.

The hour-long session concludes with a search-and-rescue mission that requires the kids to work as a team."The kids go into a room with theatrical smoke and a fire alarm sounding, and the first crew has to put out a simulated fire,” says Howard."Then it’s up to the truck crew to rescue the victim and bring him out to safety.”

The FireZone is open for birthday parties, scouting trips and school activities. They also offer drop-in days, which Howard says are a good alternative to staying home on a day off from school. Check the schedule for drop-in days at or by calling (847) 597-8122.

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