“We are a part of the community,” said Chief David Mixson who joined the city’s Public Safety Department on July 5, 2017 after serving 23 years with Largo Fire Rescue. He filled a vacancy created by the retirement of Chief Dayton Saltsman.
“We want people to come in, meet the fire crews, see where we work, what we do” and where the firefighters live 24 hours a day, he said.
The department employs 15 people, said Firefighter Taylor Zinninger. Thirteen are firefighter paramedics and two are EMTs. Each person works a 24-hour shift then has 48 hours off. From five to six people work each shift.
Station 20, located at 911 Oleander Way South, is tucked behind the Winn Dixie supermarket with a large paved parking lot on its north side.
Good thing because on Saturday, that’s where the Bayfront helicopter landed then opened its doors for tours. Kids who sat inside received a flight wing pin.
For law enforcement, the city contracts with the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office so deputies were out in force to demonstrate one of their K9 bomb-sniffing dogs and the fire department’s tactical high-water vehicle used for hurricane rescues, which is military surplus basic Humvee.
The Sunstar paramedic service also had an information table and ambulance on site that was open for tours.
Other public safety related tables provided information about such topics as first aid classes offered by the American Red Cross, services offered by Palms of Pasadena Hospital and hurricane preparedness tips from Pinellas County Emergency Management that included a battery-operated lantern give away.
But, after all it was the fire department’s show.
They did an aerial ladder truck roof rescue off their own building that was about 25-feet high, a cardiac arrest simulation with a full-size specialty mannequin named Hal and a fire attack demonstration that had two firefighters simulate breaking through a door with an ax then following through with an active water hose all while dressed in full regalia including full-face oxygen masks with portable backpack tanks.
In addition, firefighters led two tours of their offices and living quarters that were packed with adults and kids who wanted to get a behind-the-scenes look. About 150 people attended throughout the event.
And, there was food. The owner of Leverock’s Great Seafood of South Pasadena brought his restaurant’s signature peanut butter pie and a decorated cake of smoked fish spread that had “So Pasadena Fire” spelled out on top with capers.
These treats complemented a lunch of grilled hot dogs and chips provided by the fire department.
Mixson is mirroring an annual event that is offered in Largo during national fire prevention month every October.
In South Pasadena, “I thought it would be a good idea to do it in January when everybody is down from up north and can participate,” he said. The department plans to make their open house an annual event so “we can give back to the community.”