by Gary Megaffin
It was the wail of the sirens and the flashing of lights that lit up the faces of the kids riding in the two big Kitchener Department’s fire engines. Volunteer members of the Kitchener Fire Department and the Waterloo Regional Police hosted over 100 youngsters ranging in age from 10 to 15 years old on Thursday, August 16, as part of COPS — the Community Outreach Program. The annual event was held at The Waterloo Region Emergency Services Training and Research Centre complex located at 1001 Erbs Road, Waterloo, where the youngsters participated in live fire demonstrations, search and rescue exercises, and competed in the Firefighter’s Challenge.
As a member of Council 1504, co-ordinator and retired Public Education Officer for Kitchener Fire, Brother Kevin Schmalz said the event has a long history over the past 20 years, for children that don’t have the opportunity to attend a summer camp, and who are either financially or socially affected. Summer activities at community centres, such as Centreville Chicopee, Mill & Courtland and Kingsdale culminate in the big day with the COPS program at the training complex. After the kids were invited to participate in many of the exercises used by the firefighters, and given rides in a real fire truck, a delicious lunch was prepared and served to the young guests by members of the Kitchener Knights of Columbus.