Firefighters, police featured at Chick-fil-A family night

AMERICAN FORK -- Monday afternoon and early evening, the temperatures were still high, the sun was shining brightly and the asphalt of the Chick-fil-A parking lot was sweltering. But the word of the day was "cool."

The restaurant was dedicating its standard Monday family night to local heroes -- especially those of the American Fork Police and Fire/EMS Departments. Several different groups from the departments were on hand to meet with families and tell children about their activities. That included letting them try on various pieces of equipment they use on a day-to-day basis.

Six-year-old Cole Wimmer of Alpine was one who put on the 50-pound SWAT vest.

"It was heavy. It was really cool," he said. "I love policemen. I really love them. I would like to be one."

His brother, 11-year-old Mason, agreed.

"It was cool," he said. "It would be hard to wear it for a long time. These heroes are good. They help our town and keep us safe."

Dusty Pyne, the owner/operator of the local Chick-fil-A, told about the event.

"We have family night every Monday from 5 to 8," he said. "We have different activities for the kids. We always do free sundaes every Monday for the kids."

Vern Pyne, the restaurant's marketing director, told about bringing in the "local heroes."

"To have the fire department and police department join with us, this is the first time," he said. "It is not going to be the last time."

"We are grateful for them to come out and for all they do," Dusty Pyne said. "Everybody has been taking pictures with them. We are glad to be here in the community. It has been fun."

Police officer Adam Stowers said both kids and adults liked to stop and talk to members of the SWAT team and check out their heavy vests and weapons.

Detective Stuart Fore agreed.

"When they see the weapons laid out and all the gear, they are very interested," he said.

Some of the public safety personnel said they could identify with the kids.

"Kids love fire trucks," said Capt. Ben Anderson of the fire department. "I am still a kid. Most of them like it, except the horns scare some of them."

He spoke with a potential member of the department, telling her about requirements and about the group in general.

It is one of the largest departments in Utah County, he said, with 95 members on the roster. They are planning on hiring about five more "paid call" firefighters this fall. Those either live or work in the community and are not paid a salary, but are paid for calls that they go on.

"One of the big benefits of a paid call department is that you don't have to pay a staff," he said. "They get paid only for showing up for the call. American Fork is big enough that we can run multiple incidents. We have run four separate incidents at the same time."

The combination of paid and volunteer firefighters in the department is going well.

"It is working well for now," he said. "We have really good volunteers."

He praised Fire Chief Kriss Garcia for his contributions.

"Chief Garcia is known internationally," he said. "They know him from Dublin, Ireland to Sydney, Australia. We are glad to have him here."

The kids didn't care who was chief; they just wanted to see and try the equipment.

Nine-year-old Brenden Layne enjoyed dressing in the fireman's outfit.

"It was very, very hot," he said. "I want to be a firefighter because I can go up the ladder about 110 feet," he said.

His response was pretty typical of those at the event.

"The kids have said it was fantastic," said police canine handler Kevin Doyl. "They have had a lot of fun sitting in the cars. We have let them turn on the lights, play with the sirens."

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