January 2013, Oakland Firefighters and Citizen volunteers began a project to help children and their families that may be the first in the world. The Family House at Children’s Hospital in Oakland, California has existed for 25 years. It is a 16-bedroom facility that allows families with very sick children to stay close by while their children are in the hospital.
For years, Oakland Firefighters have visited the children at Children’s Hospital on a regular basis and have brought toys and smiles to the faces of the children and their families. They have answered requests from social workers for wheelchairs, portable DVD players, PlayStation game systems, helicopter rides, and fulfilled many special needs for the children.
Under the direction of the non-profit organization Oakland Firefighters Random Acts, and with the support of the International Association of Firefighters Local 55 and the Oakland Fire Department, the back yard of the Family House has now been turned into a Firefighter-Themed Playground. It includes ‘Freddie the Fire Truck’ and a miniature fire station measuring 10 ft. x 12 ft. x 13 ft. tall that is a scale model of Oakland Fire Station No. 8 located just up the street from Children’s Hospital. Inside the fire station children can push buttons to hear firehouse related sounds, see displays of real Firefighter gear, and a cartoon mural painted on one wall depicting a Firefighter slaying a fire breathing dragon.
The Firefighter-themed Playground at Family House was dedicated to two Oakland Firefighters who passed away five years ago within 3 days of each other. Firefighters Angelo Primas and Kevin Reed both worked at Station 8. These two larger than life Heroes not only safeguarded the lives of children at emergencies, they also routinely visited the sick and injured at Children’s Hospital Oakland. Their contagious good spirits and outpouring of love greatly aided in the healing process of the boys and girls they visited at the hospital. A private dedication ceremony was held for the families of the two Firefighters.
On October 31, 2013, Children’s Hospital Oakland held a Donor Recognition Event to honor Oakland Firefighters Random Acts and the many Oakland Firefighters, Citizen volunteers, financial donors, and numerous local businesses that came together to create a place where children can play and their families can relax knowing that Firefighters care and can make a difference in their lives. Oakland Firefighters from Station 8 did the honors of cutting the ribbon to the Firefighters Playground and unveiled the miniature replica of their Fire Station No. 8.