HOPKINTON — Hope Valley-Wyoming Fire Capt. Mike Deniger hopes the upcoming open house at the department's Main Street headquarters on Sunday will be similar to a community block party.
For small town fire departments in towns like Hopkinton, Richmond and Charlestown, open houses serve to enhance public rapport, recruit volunteers, share fire prevention information, and learn how to better serve the public. Deniger said he hopes this year's annual open house, which runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will draw a crowd and provide opportunities for everyone involved.
"The open houses are some of the best ways to just connect with the community," Deniger said. "This year, we have tried to make sure it is far more geared to helping the public and our volunteers unwind and enjoy one another."
The event, which is free of charge, will include an obstacle course and bounce house for children, fire prevention materials and activity books, a touch-a-truck program, a visit from Smokey Bear, snacks including fresh popcorn, and a chance to recognize the annual school poster contest winner.
Representatives of the Richmond and Hopkinton police departments, the Ashaway and Carolina fire departments, Hope Valley Ambulance and the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Protection will be present as well.
Deniger said that for many of the firefighters, this is an opportunity to talk with the public in a relaxed, non-emergency setting. This helps establish relationships with community members or in some cases build on existing relationships, which helps the department to expand its volunteer base.
"It certainly helps to get the word out on what it is we do," he said.
As an added attraction, parents who bring nonperishable items for donation to the local food pantry will get a chance to take their children for a ride in one of the department's fire apparatus.
The event is one of two in the coming weeks. The Charlestown Richmond Fire Department will host an open house from 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12.
For more information on the Hope Valley open house, visit the event page on Facebook at facebook.com/events/487346371830368. For more on the Charlestown event, visit the department's page at facebook.com/events/378703002825015.