BLAINE – When you are four years old, words such as quarantine and social distancing have no meaning.
You don’t care about the Coronavirus. You just want to get out and play with your friends. And if it’s your birthday, you want them to come over for a party with ice cream, cake and presents.
So when Jack Powell turned four last week, his mom and dad, Amanda and Tom, looked for a way to make the day a memorable one.
“A neighbor told me she had seen stories online about fire departments bringing their equipment to birthdays and other celebrations,” Amanda Powell said.
She called Dwayne Irwin, chief of the Blaine Volunteer Fire Department, for help. Irwin jumped at the opportunity.
“It’s pretty tough when you can’t have your friends over. So we brought the party to him,” Irwin said. “This is the first time we’ve been asked to do this.”
At the appointed hour, the wail of sirens was heard along Zachary Road, as the department’s fleet of six approached the Powell household. They were accompanied by a Blaine city police cruiser and Grainger County EMS ambulance, red lights and blue lights flashing.
It was a complete surprise for Jack. He was initially a bit hesitant about how to respond, but he soon warmed to the task.
Irwin knelt beside Jack and presented him with a firefighter’s hat. He then handed him a large gift-wrapped package, a model of a fully equipped fire engine.
Jack backed off the first time he was invited to climb in the driver’s seat of the department’s gleaming new pumper truck. But with the firefighter’s hat on his head, he and his mom climbed in to give the siren a whirl. Phone cameras clicked from every angle, recording the occasion.
Irwin then unrolled a hose and let the birthday boy pull the trigger.
“He loved it. He said it was the best part of his day,” Tom Powell said afterward.
He said they would try to have a party for Jack at a later time.