BAINBRIDGE ISLAND — The Bainbridge Fire Department celebrated its 75th anniversary with two things near and dear to the hearts of the residents it serves — pancakes and fire truck rides.
Over the course of the four-hour event, held at Sonoji Sakai Intermediate School, wave after wave of residents came out to enjoy some breakfast and a journey on top of one of the department’s trucks.
The department is unsure exactly how many years it has been providing fire truck rides, but Dave Hannon, a battalion chief for the fire department estimates it to be about 70 years.
“No one really knows that number for sure,” said Hannon. “One of the guys has been with the department for over 60 years, and they had already been doing it when he joined.”
No matter how long it has been going, the annual event remains a staple of life on Bainbridge Island and the enthusiasm is as great as ever. The line for to ride a truck was never short, and afterwards, children often flocked to the engines, ladder truck, ambulances and boat that were on display in the parking lot for them to examine.
But the event is not just for the public — the firefighters themselves, who are often only seen during fire calls or other emergencies, get the chance to spend time in a different environment with the residents of the island; and return the goodwill shown by those who donate through their participation in the event.
“You can see that [the kids] live for it,” said firefighter Dag Liljequist. “But it is fun for us, since typically we are responding to citizens’ emergencies to take care of them. We can enjoy a little personal time get to know people a little better, and it can serve as a bit of a reunion for us. We get to see folks we haven’t seen, so it’s a big deal for us too.”
The pancake breakfast is in its 22nd year and the money raised from the event goes to the Bainbridge Island Volunteer Firefighters Association, which in turn, helps provide money and equipment for the fire department.
“It’s for the association,” said Hannon. “Even though everybody the whole department chips in for it, the firefighters association is the one that gets the money for it. And they buy the equipment that normally goes to the fire department.”