PINAL COUNTY, AZ — Finding things to do with your kids for the summer isn’t always easy or cheap. One Arizona community took that to heart in central Pinal County.
“If this wasn’t open, I would have probably stayed at home, and in bed,” said a young girl named Nikole Linton soaked head to toe.
Every summer Arizona City firefighters transform their headquarters into a children’s paradise. It’s a small unincorporated community south of Phoenix nestled in the desert.
“I mean, there’s really no other activity for them here in the summertime, we don’t have a city pool, we don’t have a city park,” said Fire Chief Jeff Heaton.
What neighbors do have is a group of first responders determined to meet its community's needs. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday for the last six years fire hoses are turned on promptly at 10 a.m. and blow-up waterslides reach to the sky. The men and women normally seeing people on their worst days, get to see them on their best frolicking in a mini waterpark.
“That one’s my favorite because you can get some pretty good speed on it and it’s super high,” points out another little girl with excitement.
The lack of activities in the area is tough on working parents. Mom Kati Amos says her kids’ requests for Disneyland vacations or road trips to costly waterparks now come less frequently.
“This is a godsend, it’s amazing, and it’s free and there’s even lunch at the end,” said Amos. One that’s paid for by the Pinal County Attorney’s office.
The day offered a much-needed break to those same parents as well.
“I know that they’re safe here so if I need to go sit down and take a break, I know that they’re ok,” said Aimee Jensen with a chuckle.
“It’s a blast, if you look around, most of the firemen are having as much as the kids are having,” said Chief Heaton.
While fun is the name of the game, it wouldn’t be a day at the firehouse without some simple safety tips too.
“What number do you call,” shouts Heaton.
“911!” Shouts the circle of children.
“We don’t talk to?” Yells Heaton again.
“Strangers!” They respond in unison.