Hereford Fire Company continues statewide Santa tradition

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Many students can recount past Decembers, watching Santa pass by their homes, not in a sleigh, but a firetruck. There are many traditions nestled and incorporated into our community, and the annual holiday Santa truck ride, is one of these unique events. 

“The first winter break I experienced after moving here, was when I was in 4th grade. Before that, I lived in the city so the only sirens I were used to hearing were those for emergencies,” Julia Long (’21) said. “When I started hearing sirens in the neighborhood on Christmas Eve, I freaked out thinking there was a fire or something. Turns out is was just Santa parading around. It was still a terrifying yet humorous experience.” 

Although many students have fond memories of ‘Firetruck Santa,’ the people and program behind the sirens and candy-throwing might be unknown. The Hereford Volunteer Fire Company is located on Monkton Road and is dedicated to providing aid and protection to the local community. This year alone, the Fire Company has responded to 628 calls as of Dec. 1, 2019. 

“I’ve been a volunteer for two years, and typically I go to the firehouse everyday. Sometimes I leave school for calls,” Ethan Yates (’20) said. “We get around ten to fifteen calls a week. When we aren’t responding to an emergency, we clean the [equipment].”

Before a volunteer is allowed to ride they must complete three training credits. This proves crucial to the safety of the volunteers when they respond to calls.

“My most memorable experience was when a farm and hay bales were on fire. It was spreading to the woods, and there was a house not too far away. I was spraying the fire when I got trapped in smoke,” Barone (’21) said. “I couldn’t see anything. I couldn’t breathe without the smoke burning my throat. I was trapped for about five minutes before I finally found my way out. That shows me how dangerous this job can be. There are many risk factors, but I’m willing to risk my life for that. And it’s just too fun to stop.”

While, for a majority of the year the Company comes to the community’s rescue, they also bring Christmas spirit.

“When my kids were younger, we would go to the development across our house and watch. My kids were normally too shy to go up to them, but they would get candy canes the  firefighters threw,” English teacher Mary Beth Stuller said.

 Usually, being Santa for the night, is freezing in the late December temperatures, and loud, due to the sirens. This means that the job of Santa falls upon the Probies, or rookie firefighters. 

“We have a Santa costume in storage that we bring out and stuff with a pillow,” Yates said. “We drive around on three separate days, from around 7-10 p.m.” 

To show their appreciation, community members will bake treats for the firefighters.

“There are a lot of kids that come out. We make stops as we visit different neighborhoods, and people will give us hot chocolate and cookies,” Yates said. 

Cayden Blizzard (’20) also volunteers at the fire company. He goes to the firehouse after school, and last year he and Yates took a turn being Santa.

“There isn’t just one firetruck that goes around. The first one has Santa on top, the second is full of volunteers who are along for the ride, the third has people handing out sweets like candy canes, and the last truck collects cookies that people give us.” Blizzard said. 

To find the dates and neighborhoods of Firetruck Santa visits, go to the Hereford Volunteer Fire Company’s Facebook page @HerefordFire.