ISHPEMING - The Ishpeming Volunteer Fire Department hosted its first National Night Out celebration Tuesday, joining a variety of other local groups celebrating the national movement to connect communities and reduce crime.
For the Ishpeming department, however, the event was also a chance to give the community a look at the fire hall building, which is currently being eyed for replacement by the Ishpeming City Council, although a decision on where a new building would be located or what it would look like has yet to be made.
"This is the first (National Night Out) we've hosted here," said firefighter Rich Laksonen. "We wanted to get people aware of the status of the building and the equipment we have now."
Preston Wallace, 3, is helped out of the driver’s seat of one of the Ishpeming Volunteer Fire Department’s vehicles by his grandfather, retired Ishpeming City Police Officer John Wallace, at Tuesday’s National Night Out event at the city fire hall. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
The event in Ishpeming was a chance to connect community members to the city’s firefighters and give area residents a look inside the fire hall. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
Visitors got a chance to look at some of the historic equipment used when the fire hall was built 100 years ago. (Journal photo by Johanna Boyle)
National Night Out is a crime and drug prevention event organized by the National Association of Town Watch that connects people within neighborhoods and then connects those neighborhoods to local law enforcement organizations to raise awareness of crime and drug prevention and strengthen neighborhood spirit.
At the Ishpeming fire department, visitors enjoyed hot dogs and pop while they toured the fire and police building.?They saw some of the historic equipment the 100-year-old building was originally designed to house, including water buckets and horse-drawn carriages.
Parked outside were the much larger and heavier modern fire trucks, which people could also get an up-close look at.
For young kids, the event was a chance to meet the firefighters that make up the department and maybe dream about becoming one themselves.
"I'll grow up and I'll drive (a fire truck)," said 3-year-old Preston Wallace, grandson of former Ishpeming Police Officer John Wallace, as he climbed into the driver's seat of one of the Ishpeming trucks. "I'll do that one day."
Meeting the fire department members is important both for the firefighters and the community members, Laksonen said.
"I think it's important to meet the guys because most of them live in the communities," he said.
National Night Out activities are continuing around the county through the next two weeks.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401.